Colorado Walk-In Access Program Expanded

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

A very popular Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) program is adding opportunities which will benefit small game hunters and landowners alike. Walk-In Access Program (WIA) participants in 2007 will find additional access earlier in the season for a wider range of small game and waterfowl species across a much larger area of Colorado. All this is contingent on the Colorado Wildlife Commission adopting regulations at their July meeting that will allow the access program to offer opportunity beginning in September of 2007. This change could increase hunter opportunity for early autumn seasons, but also increase the range of the popular access program.

Historically, WIA primarily targeted pheasants, which required the majority of land to be enrolled where the most pheasants occur - in extreme Eastern Colorado. Last year marked the successful expansion of WIA to Southeast Colorado scaled quail and waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway. In 2007, plans are being made to offer hunting access for mourning doves, rabbits, and other small game species across the state, while maintaining plenty of opportunity for pheasants and quail.

Landowners will find more opportunities to enroll land in WIA as a result of this expansion. While high quality pheasant and quail Conservation Reserve Program lands and crop fields will remain a high priority for enrollment, properties that offer good dove, waterfowl, or other small game hunting will be welcome additions to the access program. Hunting properties that offer roosting sites, feeding or watering areas for doves, and feeding fields for waterfowl are a high priority for enrollment into Walk-In. Walk-In Access rental payments vary by species and size of property, but on average are $1-3/acre annually. Landowners interested in enrolling land into the access program should contact their local District Wildlife Manager or local DOW office for details.

Small game hunters will also enjoy more opportunities to hunt, ranging from doves in September, pheasants and quail during the upland bird season, to cottontails and furbearers in February. Hunters will find that opportunity varies regionally within the state. For instance, while land enrolled in one region may be best suited for pheasants with limited dove opportunity, a hunter may find that another area of the state offers better dove hunting for a longer period of time.

"The objective with this new focus is to offer access for the numerous small game opportunities that occur across the state," said Ed Gorman, Small Game and Walk-In Access Program Manager. "In one area, it could be doves or quail, while in another part of the state, cottontails and waterfowl could be the focus. The idea is to look at each area's best resources for small game, and focus on providing hunting access for those, while not ruling out other small game opportunities wherever they occur."

Participating hunters, age 18 and older, must possess a valid small game license, in addition to a Walk-In Access Permit, which is valid January 1 through December 31 annually. Hunters younger than age 18 can hunt Walk-In Access lands without a Walk-In Permit, although they still need a small game license. Hunters must also comply with Habitat Stamp regulations. Walk-In Permits, which allow a hunter to access any property enrolled in the Walk-In Program can be purchased at any DOW office or license agent for $20. All properties enrolled in the Walk-In Access Program are published in a Walk-In Atlas, and are posted with Walk-In Access Boundary signs. Walk-In Properties are open to small game, waterfowl and furbearer hunting only, by "foot access only".