Colorado Private Land Voucher Program to Be Discussed

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Sportsmen who are interested in improving Colorado's Landowner Preference Program, a program that supports hunting opportunities on private lands, are invited to attend upcoming informational meetings in Denver and in Grand Junction.

The Denver meeting will be held on September 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at in the Bighorn Room at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife building at 6060 Broadway Ave. The Grand Junction meeting will be held on Sept. 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Hunter Education Building at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife campus at 711 Independent Avenue.

For the last 20 months, a collaborative committee of landowners, sportsmen, outfitters and wildlife managers has been meeting to review the program, also known as the landowner voucher program, and identify ways to improve its effectiveness. The group has identified several possible changes and is seeking input from sportsmen to help evaluate these options.

"The landowner voucher program supports landowners who manage their lands to support wildlife, and over the years it has helped us manage our state’s big game populations while increasing hunting opportunity," said Dave Chadwick of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "But sportsmen have raised concerns legitimate with how the program operates. This committee has found some opportunities to make this program better and they need to hear from sportsmen to help them refine their proposals." 

Colorado’s Landowner Preference Program sets aside up to 15 percent of the elk, deer, and pronghorn licenses in limited game management units for qualifying landowners.  More than 7 million acres of private lands are registered in the program. To qualify, a landowner must enroll at least 160 acres of agricultural land that is inhabited by deer, elk or pronghorn for most of the year in a game management unit where firearm hunting licenses are totally limited by the Parks and Wildlife Commission.

These licenses are made available through a draw process to landowners, and they can then be sold or transferred to any eligible hunter and are valid in the entire Game Management Unit where private land is located. The number of vouchers available to a landowner varies with the amount of acreage enrolled.

By encouraging private landowners to protect wildlife habitat and provide hunting opportunities, the program plays an important role in management of Colorado’s big game.  However, concerns have been raised over the years with how the program operates.   The committee has discussed requiring information collection about the use of landowner vouchers, enhancing enforcement of program violations, and making changes to the eligibility requirements for landowners.   The group’s recommendations for improvements may include legislative or regulatory changes, policy statements and better reporting of program operations.

The meetings will include presentations about potential program changes and discussion with committee representatives.  All interested sportsmen are encouraged to attend and share their views.  The meetings are open to any member of the public. 

Attendees are encouraged to RSVP to the committee’s facilitator, Dave Chadwick, at dave.chadwick@state.co.us or 303-291-7174 to help get an accurate headcount. 

To learn more about Colorado's Landowner Preference Program, please visit: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/BigGame/PriorityLandowner/Pages/PriorityLandowner.aspx.

More information about the review committee may be found at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/BigGame/LandownerVoucherReviewCommittee/Pages/LandownerVoucherReviewCommittee.aspx

Comments

COMeatHunter's picture

I'd like to see Colorado make some changes to Landowner Vouchers

I'd like to see Colorado make some changes to how the landowner vouchers work.  From working with landowners who actually have agricultural operations, even small acreage farms, to larger acreage owners.  Also streamlining the process for agricultural loss control hunts--this could help limit some of the damage costs to the DOW.

I also like how Wyoming does their harvest coupons so private landowners can be compensated for harvests on their property.  Not sure how to make something like that work in Colorado, but I'm not an expert in the DOW either.  Just a suggestion among many to incentivise private landowners to open their properties to public hunters.