Colorado Proposes Merging State Parks with Division of Wildlife

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Colorado has historically managed its wildlife and park system separately; however budget deficits have lead Governor Hickenlooper to propose merging the two departments. According to the Denver Post, no layoffs are planned, but overlapping positions would not be rehired after regular attrition due to retirement or resignations.

Mike King, the director of the Department of Natural Resources, said there is a "tremendous amount of overlap" between the missions of the Division of Wildlife and the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. "They provide recreational opportunity. They protect our lands, our habitat, our hunting and fishing opportunities," he said. "It should have been done a long time ago."

Presumably, once the divisions are merged, a hunter could buy park passes, OHV/ATV permits, and hunting permits through one system, rather than the patchwork of systems now in place.


hunter25's picture

I'm not sure all the details

I'm not sure all the details that are being planned but don't believe it would bode well for the hunters. There are a lot of other ways they could save money anyway. All the parks I've visited recently have seen huge upgrades that were not necessary. I was shocked when I went to Rifle Gap last year and saw the new campgrounds and all the fully paved roads that had been gravel for as long as I have lived here.

I have also noticed more staff at all levels of service.

cowgal's picture


I can understand the concern, however it's already been stated that the state parks will be shut down due to the huge deficit in the budget. My thought was that I'd rather see the parks open, than completely shut down. I also have reservations about these 2 agencies actually working together for the benefit of the hunters, not just the "city folks" that like to play in the parks. 

WishIWasHunting's picture

Hold on to your hunting boots!

As a sportsman and a Colorado taxpayer, this makes me extremely nervous!  I love the idea of consolidating government offices to save taxpayers money, but I am worried about how this will play out.  I need to research it further, but I believe CDOW is funded by license fees and taxes from lottery winnings.  If I remember right, CO State Parks is funded by parks fees, CO general fund, and Federal dollars.  By combining these two organizations, I believe hunters in CO will lose their voice since more people will be contributing to the function of this new organization.  It is highly likely that license fees in Colorado will be raised in the near future, and these funds will likely be diverted from hunting management purposes.  Before this even happened, I felt like CDOW was being influenced and ran more and more by preservationist rather than conservationists.  I believe this consolidation will only further this trend.  I hope this works out as a positive for CO taxpayers and hunters of CO, but the cynical side of me fears the worst. 

hunter25's picture

Actually it is the state

Actually it is the state parks that benefit from the lottery. I just checked the parks website and it states that 10% of lottery proceeds go to the parks.

cowgal's picture

Good idea

When Hickenlooper won the election, I was a bit wary of yet another democrat for our governor - however I was also hopeful, since he actually has practical business experience, unlike most politicians. This is exactly the type of idea I expect to see from politicians that are trying to keep our parks open and available to the public, yet cut cost at the same time. Colorado, like so many states has a serious budget shortfall, so seeing this type of collaboration is heartening. I hope it works - and saves our tax dollars at the same time!

jaybe's picture

Not Sure it's Good

I'm not sure that it's a good idea. As the first poster said, when you merge two organizations that have basically different goals, one is bound to lose out. Since those closest to the (D) governor's heart will be the expansion of parks, protection of animals (from hunters), and more opportunities for expanded use of the land (Horse Trails, Birdwatching, Hiking Trails, etc.) this will almost certainly IMO result in fewer opportunities for hunters.

  In my state the previous (D) governor merged our Natural Resources Department (DNR) with the Department of Enviromental Quality (DEQ). It soon became apparent that the new department (DNRE) was putting a lot of emphasis on expanding the utilization of the state public lands for those formerly mentioned, and less opportunity for hunters shooting "those noisy guns".

I don't think that the folks in Colorado will find that it is much different.

BTW - our new (R) governor is going to split the two agencies again.