Hunting for tourism dollars

MCTA works with local resident to present pro-hunting discussion at annual conference

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— J.B. Chapman has hunted on his property for as long as he can remember. He's been taking other hunters out on his property for 12 years.

In other words, he has a history in hunting.

Gov. Bill Ritter wants to know how important hunting is to Colorado tourism, and Chapman and the Moffat County Tourism Association are planning to tell him.

Chapman will join Shelly Flannery, MCTA executive director, at the Governor's 2007 Colorado Tourism Conference, held Oct. 10 to 12 in Grand Junction. Ritter will attend to hear from different groups from around the state.

Chapman and Flannery plan to give a presentation to the Colorado Tourism Office about the importance of out-of-state tourism licensing.

"I hope the CTO can see the importance in this to all local communities throughout Colorado," Chapman said. "This is not just about people coming to Colorado to hunt. These hunters come and then they bring their families back to ski, to fish. It's about people coming to Colorado to enjoy all the things we have to offer."

Chapman is speaking out against Fair Share Colorado's campaign to change the hunting license ratio to 90 percent in-state residents and 10 percent out-of-state. Currently, there is a range of a 65 to 35 percent split in some parts of the state in favor of in-state residents. In other parts, it is 80 to 20 percent, also in favor of in-state residents.

Out-of-state hunters subsidize nature activities in Colorado by paying about $500 for a license that costs a Colorado resident about $45, said Randy Hampton, spokesperson for Colorado Division of Wildlife. They also fill the demand for licenses and the need for wildlife population control, Chapman said.

"The wildlife population cannot be managed with only 10 percent of the hunters from out-of-state," Chapman said. "I don't think there are enough active hunters in this state to make up the difference."

Last week, Chapman and Flannery gave a similar presentation to Progressive 15, a coalition of counties in Northeast Colorado much like Northwest Colorado's Club 20.

"The Progressive 15 was very receptive," Chapman said. "They're beginning to have out-of-state hunters come in to harvest their wildlife. They understand natural resources."

Chapman expects resolutions from Progressive 15, Club 20 and Action 22 in the southeast part of the state.

"They likewise see the importance in not having a ballot initiative to change the license structure," Chapman said.

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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