Colorado launches new outdoor recreation industry office

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Luis Benitez will head Colorado’s new Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

‘I want to hear what people in small communities are doing and carry those stories to the highest level …’

FRISCO — Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry — from skiing and snowmobiling, to birdwatching and hunting — has become a powerful economic force in the last few decades.

By some accounts, the industry generates as much as $13 billion per year in consumer spending and drives the economy of many communities outside the urban Front Range corridor. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the industry contributes $4.2 billion in wages and salaries in Colorado.

Now, Gov. John Hickenlooper says he wants to boost the industry’s role to an even higher profile by establishing a new Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, housed in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Last week, Hickenlooper announced that Eagle County resident Luis Guillermo Benitez will head the new office’s efforts build the state’s outdoor recreation brand. Continue reading

Letter shows widespread business support for public land protection under the Antiquities Act

Groups urge Obama to designate more monuments

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Colorado National Monument was one of the earliest tracts of public land to be designated under the Antiquities Act. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Public lands are vital to the growing economies of the American West, a coalition of business groups said in a recent letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to protect special areas through his authority under the Antiquities Act.

The letter was sent on the 109th anniversary of the Act, a law that enables presidents to designate national monuments and other landmarks for protection. That authority has come under on-and-off attack by the GOP in Congress, as some lawmakers have sought to roll back presidential powers. Continue reading

Summit County: Wildlife managers seek info on moose kill

Colorado moose

A moose cow and calves grazing near Berthoud Pass, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Failure to report an accidental kill can lead to fines, loss of license

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — State game managers are looking for information about the death of a bull moose near the Summit County shooting range and Frey Gulch Road. According to wildlife officials, the moose died from a gunshot wound and was not field dressed, leaving the meat to waste.

The moose was found during Colorado’s second rifle-hunting season but officials believe it was killed in early October, possibly during the first rifle season, Oct. 12 through 16.

Although details of the moose’s death are currently unknown, officials are investigating the incident as a possible mistaken or careless kill by an elk hunter.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife urges the public to provide any additional information that may lead to the person or persons responsible, including personal photos of any live bull moose seen in the area since early October.

“We understand that mistaken kills can happen while hunting, but we ask hunters to let us know right away,” said Summit County District Wildlife Manager Elissa Knox. “Killing an animal without a license, abandoning and wasting the meat and evading authorities can potentially lead to felony charges, substantial fines, prison time and a lifetime suspension of hunting privileges in Colorado as well as 38 other states.” Continue reading

Wildlife officials say Colorado is ‘open for hunting’

A bull elk in Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE/MICHAEL SERAPHIN.

A bull elk in Colorado. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Michael Seraphin.

Federal government shutdown won’t have big impact on state’s big game season

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The partial federal government shutdown has put a crimp in some hunting plans, but state officials are emphasizing that the state’s big season won’t see a big impact from the political theater in Washington, D.C.

More than 23 million acres of federal land in the state are open for fall hunting, and early snowfall could help make it one of the better seasons in recent years, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife experts.

“It’s unfortunate that hunters are receiving mixed messages from the federal agencies,” said Steve Yamashita, acting director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “While all of the National Forests in Colorado are open, the shutdown has confused sportsmen across the country and we’re trying to make sure people get the right information. Colorado is open this hunting season.”  Continue reading

Colorado: Meeker outfitter gets jail time for baiting game

Outfitter Dennis Eugene Rodebaugh sentenced to 41 months in prison for numerous wildlife violations

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A Colorado hunting will lose his business, go to jail and pay big fines for baiting deer and elk. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In a classic tale of poacher versus game warden, a Meeker man apparently carried on a hunting business using illegal baiting to lure wildlife for his out-of-state clients, perhaps for as long as 20 years.

After other local residents tipped them off, state and federal agents launched an eight-year investigation that culminated last week, when U.S. District Court Judge Christine Arguello sentencing Dennis Eugene Rodebaugh, 72, owner of D & S Outfitters of Meeker, to 41 months in federal prison. He must also pay $37,390 in restitution to the state and forfeit two all-terrain vehicles and a trailer used in the commission of his crimes.

In September 2012, a federal jury in Denver found Rodebaugh guilty of six felony violations of the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits the transportation of illegally taken wildlife across state lines.

Baiting wildlife is illegal in Colorado and most of Rodebaugh’s clients were out-of-state hunters. As part of his sentence, Rodebaugh must also pay a $7500 fine that will go to the Lacey Act Reward Fund.

“This individual showed grievous disregard for wildlife laws, a considerable lack of ethics and he never expressed remorse,” said lead investigator Bailey Franklin, district wildlife manager in Meeker. “It took tremendous resources and man-hours to bring him to justice and we are very satisfied with the sentence.” Continue reading

Colorado: Elk poacher hit with $11,500 fine

Grand County case solved with help from hunters

Bull elk, Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo courtesy Kim Fenske.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A West Virginia man will pay an $11,500 fine for poaching Colorado wildlife. The fine includes a $10,000 penalty that applies when trophy-quality wildlife is poached — in this case a 6×6 bull elk taken on Devil’s Thumb Ranch property in Tabernash earlier this month.

David Lee Burner, 61, was cited for “hunting on private property without permission” and “illegal possession” of the elk after wildlife officers got a tip from another hunter.

“We first received a tip from a concerned hunter who witnessed a suspected trespassing incident in Devil’s Thumb Ranch,” said Lyle Sidener, area wildlife manager in Hot Sulphur Springs. “After the ranch owners found evidence of trespass on their property, they informed us and then assisted us in the investigation.” Continue reading

Key federal wildlife funding measure turns 75 this month

Pittman-Robertson Act crucial to maintaining Colorado game herds

Funding derived from the Pittman-Robertson Act helped Colorado establish a moose population. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Without much fanfare, wildlife managers around the country are celebrating a milestone this month, as the Pittman-Robertson Act turns 75.

If you’ve never heard of the Pittman-Robertson Act, you’re probably not alone, but if you value wildlife, you’ve probably benefited from what might is probably the single most effective funding tool for wildlife management and restoration.

Along with a companion measure — The Dingell-Johnson Act — passed several years later, the 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition has helped restore charismatic species like wild turkeys, bald eagles and peregrine falcons. In Colorado, the funds have also been used to help pay for management and operations at 300 state wildlife areas. Continue reading

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