Colorado Parks and Wildlife is inviting sportsmen to attend a town hall meeting with agency director Rick Cables on Thursday, May 10 to discuss proposed improvements to the Landowner Voucher Program.
The meeting is scheduled to be held in the Hunter Education Building at the agency's Grand Junction regional office, located 711 Independent Avenue.
The meeting is scheduled to run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. All members of the public are invited to attend.
The landowner voucher program offers hunting licenses to private landowners whose farms and ranches provide habitat for big game. The program has evolved over the course of five decades and today enrolls approximately 5,000 properties across Colorado that allow hunting for deer, elk and pronghorn.
"The landowner voucher program helps us manage Colorado's wildlife by building relationships with private landowners, encouraging good stewardship practices and providing additional hunting opportunity," said Cables. "Because private lands play such a key role in supporting Colorado's wildlife, we all have a stake in strengthening this important program."
Two years ago, the former Division of Wildlife convened a committee of landowners, sportsmen, outfitters and wildlife managers to address concerns that had built up through the years. The committee held more than 20 public meetings and dozens of informal meetings across the state. Members developed a package of recommendations which include tightening enforcement of the program's rules and providing a stronger connection between the voucher program and the habitat value of participating ranches.
Under current rules, up to 15 percent of deer, elk and pronghorn licenses in each totally limited hunting unit are made available through a draw process for landowners who own at least 160 contiguous acres of agricultural land. The licenses are valid throughout the entire game management unit where the private land is located and can be sold or transferred to any eligible hunter.
The recommendations for improving the program include changing the proportion of licenses set aside for landowners and tightening up program eligibility rules to ensure that participating properties are used by big game animals. The recommendations also call for closer enforcement of program rules, including eligibility requirements and bans on "brokering" of hunting licenses.
"We've worked for a long time to understand the concerns sportsmen and landowners raised about the program and how it is currently operated," said Cables. "We believe these changes will improve the program and strengthen the partnership between landowners and sportsmen that we need to best manage big game populations that depend on private lands."