Parks Commission to Vote on OHV Regulations, Grants
Special to the Post | 3/7/12
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will vote on extending a pilot program designed to monitor and encourage compliance with the state's off-highway vehicle regulations and receive a briefing on the annual OHV Trails Grant program at its monthly meeting on Thursday, March 8.

Also on the agenda are a citizen petition to allow air rifles as a legal means of hunting furbearers and a presentation on two newly proposed additions to the Colorado Natural Areas Program.  The meeting is scheduled from 8:30am to 5pm at the Hunter Education Building on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife campus at 6060 Broadway in Denver.

Colorado's OHV Trails Program is funded through the sale of OHV registrations and use permits. Over 160,000 OHVs were registered or permitted for use in Colorado during the 2010-2011 season. Revenues generated by the annual $25 user permit are used to support the statewide OHV program, the OHV registration program and the OHV trail grant program, including OHV law enforcement.

The OHV Law Enforcement Pilot Program was created in 2011 in response to concerns about compliance with OHV regulations brought to the State Parks Board in 2009 and 2010. The program targeted problem areas identified by environmental groups with seasonal law enforcement details directed by Colorado State Parks, additional law enforcement details run by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and a citizen based peer-compliance initiative and trail condition monitoring effort organized by the Responsible Recreation Foundation.

Commissioners will receive a presentation on the results of last year's enforcement program and consider a request by staff to extend it through the 2012 recreation season.

Parks trail program staff will also brief the commission on the status of the 2012 Recreational Trails Grant program. Fifty-seven project applications totaling $6.8 were submitted by the December, 2011 deadline. About $4 million in funding is available for this year's grants. Commissioners will be briefed on how the projects were scored by the State Recreational Trails Committee in preparation for grants being awarded at the April 12 Commission meeting in Pueblo.

In other business, Commissioners will consider a citizen petition to allow air guns of .22 caliber or larger to be used in the take of furbearers.

State regulations currently permit hunters to use air guns of .177 caliber and larger to harvest certain species of small game such as rabbits, squirrels, rattlesnakes, prairie dogs and dusky grouse. However, since the regulations were written, some air gun manufacturers have begun marketing models that have increased ballistic performance by firing .25- and even .35-caliber pellets. The petition requests expanding the legal methods of take for furbearers, which are generally larger than the species for which air guns are currently permitted.

Commissioners will also learn about two new proposed additions to the Colorado Natural Areas Program. Both the 6,300-acre East Lost Park area and the 373-acre Hoosier Ridge area are located within the Pike National Forest in Park County.

The Colorado Natural Areas Program has worked with interested landowners and volunteers to conserve the ecosystems, species, geology and fossils that represent resources unique in Colorado since 1977. This cooperative, voluntary program enrolls properties whose landowners support the protection of the resources on their properties. The roughly 90 sites that have been enrolled in the program so far host more than 150 rare, threatened or endangered species and plant communities.

Commissioners will reconvene for a Friday workshop to discuss three of the agency's strategic priorities: recruitment and retention, habitat protection and improvement, and financial sustainability.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is a 14-member board appointed by the governor. The Parks and Wildlife Commission sets regulations and policies for Colorado’s state parks and wildlife programs. To view the complete agenda for the March Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting, please go to the Commission webpage.

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