Colorado State Trust Land Access

Pelican

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In Colorado, the hunting public has access to only 500,000 acres of the 3 million acres of state trust land. CPW pays about $2 per acres to the state land board for access to these lands. If you want to see where trust lands are located and which ones are leased and for what purpose, go here: https://gis.colorado.gov/trustlands/
You can turn different layers on and off or click on individuals parcels to get some information. There are some very large tracts of land in eastern CO that have public road access, but the public is prevented in accessing these lands.

I'm curious about everyone's thoughts on doing something about this issue during next years legislative session in 2020. I don't want to turn this into a political battle, but the make-up of our legislature and the governor may make doing something about this issue in CO feasible for the first time. All I am suggesting is we make a push get access to state trust land that is accessible from public roads or other public land. I would support some funding mechanism to contribute to school funding and limiting access to foot trafic or specific roads similar to what is done on other large tracts of state trust lands leased by CPW. Other uses of state land like grazing, mining, oil and gas would continue. I think this issue would fit with BHAs mission, and I know they talked about this issue several years ago, but it didn't get very far. I have no idea how best to go about this, but we would need a legislator that has some interest in such a bill and I don't see either of mine being that person. Anybody else interested in getting the ball rolling? I have no political savvy and am not that knowledgeable about the legislative process, so I am open for suggestions on how to proceed.
 
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Bigjay73

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I have brought this up several times on different forums. The push back you get from hunters is dumbfounding. Supposedly, certain public land groups are working on the issue, but I haven't heard much from any of them. Keep voicing your opinion on this. The way our state lands are regulated now is preposterous.
 

vanish

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CO BHA is definitely trying to draw attention to this issue, but its a tough row to hoe. That State Land Board doesn't really have anything to gain by just opening it up.

One of the Commissioners is pushing hard for CPW to expand big game access, and this would be an obvious place to look.

What I think would be a reasonable compromise is to allow any land that was NOT rec. leased by some private entity to be leased by CPW for rec. access for a low price (well below current minimum). State Land Board makes some money off it, and we get access.
 

Big Fin

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CO BHA is definitely trying to draw attention to this issue, but its a tough row to hoe. That State Land Board doesn't really have anything to gain by just opening it up.

One of the Commissioners is pushing hard for CPW to expand big game access, and this would be an obvious place to look.

What I think would be a reasonable compromise is to allow any land that was NOT rec. leased by some private entity to be leased by CPW for rec. access for a low price (well below current minimum). State Land Board makes some money off it, and we get access.
The "nothing to gain" argument was used when MT State Land Board access was like what currently exists in CO, circa 1993. The proposal came forth that recreationists would be a small fee, which at the time was $5 for the recreational access. It put the Legislature and the State Land Board on the spot. The mission is to maximize revenue for the schools and turning down such proposal was going to cost the schools a few million dollars each year.

Now, our access fee is higher and it results in a very nice chunk of revenue to the schools, state trust lands are open to recreation, and everyone is happy.......except for the dudes who in the past were getting the access right for free, or at no marginal cost to what they were paying for grazing rights. Some of those folks are still PO'd over that decision and the fight needed to make it a reality. I can't thank Tony Schoonen Sr., Jim Posewitz, and Jack Atcheson enough for their leadership to fight that fight. And yes, it was almost a physical altercation, beyond the political fight that was required.

If I lived in CO, I would use some derivative of that strategy to force the State Land Board's hand. Either let us pay a fee, or force the lessees to pay for the access rights as an addition to their grazing or oil/gas rights. Odds are, they will go the route of selling an access permit for recreationists to increase revenues for the state school system. If they deny such request, it would be an interesting legal battle over the land board or legislature breaching the fiduciary duty to manage such lands on behalf of the state school systems.
 

wllm1313

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CO BHA is definitely trying to draw attention to this issue, but its a tough row to hoe. That State Land Board doesn't really have anything to gain by just opening it up.

One of the Commissioners is pushing hard for CPW to expand big game access, and this would be an obvious place to look.

What I think would be a reasonable compromise is to allow any land that was NOT rec. leased by some private entity to be leased by CPW for rec. access for a low price (well below current minimum). State Land Board makes some money off it, and we get access.
The problem is a lot of the parcels that you would want opened up are already leased for big game hunting, at least on the western slope.
 

vanish

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If I lived in CO, I would use some derivative of that strategy to force the State Land Board's hand. Either let us pay a fee, or force the lessees to pay for the access rights as an addition to their grazing or oil/gas rights. Odds are, they will go the route of selling an access permit for recreationists to increase revenues for the state school system. If they deny such request, it would be an interesting legal battle over the land board or legislature breaching the fiduciary duty to manage such lands on behalf of the state school systems.
The recreational rights are already separate in Colorado, but the minimum $ per acre (determined by the current market rate) that the SLB requires to grant the lease is significantly higher than what CPW can generate by instituting a small fee on top of all licenses. Much of the SLB land is marginal hunting ( but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be nice to have access). CPW only pursues the best recreational leases available at the moment with the money it can put forth.

Essentially, the SLB is saying "granting you cheap access will cost us more in damage to the land than we'd be generating for the schools" --- whether that is true is certainly up for debate.
 

Pelican

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CO BHA is definitely trying to draw attention to this issue, but its a tough row to hoe. That State Land Board doesn't really have anything to gain by just opening it up.

What I think would be a reasonable compromise is to allow any land that was NOT rec. leased by some private entity to be leased by CPW for rec. access for a low price (well below current minimum). State Land Board makes some money off it, and we get access.
I understand it is a tough sell to the land board. They are prone to being influence by politicos like any state agency. What I’m suggesting is we go around them with legislation. I’m also not content to settle for a few more crumbs. We have access to ~17% of trust land. We have been involuntarily compromising forever. Some trust land is not publicly accessible, so we will never get to 100%, but 17% is a joke.

If I lived in CO, I would use some derivative of that strategy to force the State Land Board's hand. Either let us pay a fee, or force the lessees to pay for the access rights as an addition to their grazing or oil/gas rights. Odds are, they will go the route of selling an access permit for recreationists to increase revenues for the state school system. If they deny such request, it would be an interesting legal battle over the land board or legislature breaching the fiduciary duty to manage such lands on behalf of the state school systems.
Big Fin, thanks for the history of what happened in MT. I think that may be a good template for CO. Vanish is correct, our state land board already leases recreation rights separately from grazing, oil and gas, etc.

Here are a few numbers I was able to dig up. CPW currently spends about $900,000 to lease about 500,000 acres of trust land. In 2018, Colorado had 294,000 hunters and 806,000 anglers. That means CPW is spending less than $1 per year per license for access to trust land. If you implemented a $5 stamp per hunter only, that’s $1,470,000 and an increase of $571,595. Even if CPW pays $2/acre, which is slightly more than they pay now, that adds another 285,000 acres of access and only 26% of trust land. I looked at some tracts that have recreation leases open for bidding this year. The minimum bid is $2/acre/year. I’ll try to find some info on how much outfitters or private citizens pay for recreation leases. I don’t think it is a stretch to see hunters are getting screwed in this deal.
 

Mudranger1

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just a thought about adding a stamp... have you seen the hell fire bitching going on about the resident price increase? I am all for it and can see the benefits especially in Eastern Co like Vanish says....but I am amazed by the ignorance of the general hunting public
 

Zach

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just a thought about adding a stamp... have you seen the hell fire bitching going on about the resident price increase? I am all for it and can see the benefits especially in Eastern Co like Vanish says....but I am amazed by the ignorance of the general hunting public
Cliff, not to downplay your point about the residents collective groan, but the increased prices without reciprocal access is what grieves me.
 

Pelican

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Cliff, not to downplay your point about the residents collective groan, but the increased prices without reciprocal access is what grieves me.
Right there with you. $150+ more per year just from me. I think this illustrates that any attempt to secure more access to trust lands should be organized and have some numbers associated with the proposal. For example, the $5 stamp will secure access to an additional $500,000 acres and provide another $800,000 for schools. I’m sure that the leasees that are currently benefitting will also mount some sort of BS campaign to fight it.
 

Zach

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Right there with you. $150+ more per year just from me. I think this illustrates that any attempt to secure more access to trust lands should be organized and have some numbers associated with the proposal. For example, the $5 stamp will secure access to an additional $500,000 acres and provide another $800,000 for schools. I’m sure that the leasees that are currently benefitting will also mount some sort of BS campaign to fight it.
It has been suggested that CPW evaluate their current walk in properties and their usage vs allowing access to some of the state trust lands that hold more opportunity. Fell on deaf ears...
 

Pelican

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I wasn’t able to find any specific amounts associated with an individual lease, but was able to find that in 2018, recreation leases included 997,421 acres and produced $2,116,253 in revenue. The average price per acre was $2.12/year, which is slightly more than the average CPW is paying now.
 

88man

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This would be a great win to all and future generations if we could hunt the state land in colorado as it is certainly a worthy fight to be fought
 

Buffs35

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Would love to see it, but I would also hesitate to trust anything the current Colorado bureaucrats come up with.
 

Ben Sellers

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I, for one, would gladly tack on $10 or so to my NR license to help pay for all of the land board land to be leased by CPW. It would free up a large amount of BLM land that is inaccessible too.
 

Bigjay73

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I'd be willing to bet that if you had to buy a separate $10 or $20 stamp to access most state lands, they'd sell a boatload of them.
 
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