Update: The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission met today (Jan 14, 2015) to hear the proposed solutions for the moose hunting situation at Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Colorado. In short, the Commission voted in favor of a 1/4 mile hunting exclusion zone as measured outward from the high water line of Brainard Lake. This will be effective each year, from the start of moose hunting season in early September until the gates close in early to mid October. Along with this hunting exclusion zone will be a concerted education and communications effort for everyone who uses that area (hunters, hikers, fishermen, campers, etc).
Colorado Parks and Wildlife worked hard with citizens groups on both sides of the issue to come to this compromise. Groups representing both hunters and non-hunters were part of the working group who contributed to the final proposal. We in the working group all agreed on the need for much more signage and education in the area. However, we agreed to disagree on how/if to proactively handle potential hunter/hiker conflict. In the end, it was up to the Commission to choose which option to implement (increased education only, or education plus some kind of hunting safety zone around the lake).
The Commission recognized and acknowledged the multi-use nature of the site, but several Commissioners noted that "multi-use" didn't include just hunters. They recognized that the non-hunting public, an increasing percentage of the population, also has rights and legitimate concerns. The Commission also generally recognized that the human population of Boulder and Larimer counties in Colorado is growing very quickly and that the Brainard Lake area is being more heavily used each year by the non-hunting public. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is facing a rapidly changing population - one which is composed of fewer hunters and more non-hunters each year. It was this recognition of the changing nature of the public using the area that prompted the decision to implement a hunting exclusion zone.
While I realize that many of you may have wanted a different outcome, I feel that this is a good starting point that will allow everyone continued access to the area.
CPW and the citizens groups who worked on this compromise will continue to come together to draft education/communication materials and signage. We will also be helping with fundraising, as needed, to help CPW defray some of the costs associated with signage. Educational signage is expensive and CPW did not plan on this expense for Brainard Lake for the coming budget year (although they are working on allocating some funds). Hunters' advocacy groups volunteered to chip in funds for educational signage so it's my desire to see hikers, campers, and photographers also step up and help out as much as possible with this. After all, we share these areas - I'd like to see us follow the hunters' lead and contribute as well.
My next post will include ways that you can help make both yourself and our recreation areas safer for all to enjoy...
Text and photos copyright Nancy Rynes, 2015. You may link to this article, but please do not copy any of it without my written permission.