Craig briefs: Western Slope invited to Path Forward meeting |

Craig briefs: Western Slope invited to Path Forward meeting

In 2011, Colorado’s Legislature merged the Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks to create Colorado Parks and Wildlife. As part of the process, legislators directed the new agency’s leadership to provide strategic direction by preparing a five-year plan called Path Forward to account for cost savings, efficiencies and other effects of the merger.

At 6 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Hunter Education complex in Grand Junction, Western Slope residents will have an opportunity to meet and discuss the merger and the Path Forward with agency personnel. Similar meetings will be held across the state with a goal of gathering a wide spectrum of input from a variety of groups and stakeholders.

“Hunters, anglers, hikers, bikers, boaters and everyone else who enjoys Colorado’s outdoor resources are invited,” said Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde. “This is a great opportunity to give everyone a way to learn more about the merger, express their views and ask questions.”

Instead of a formal presentation, the meeting will follow an open house format with Parks and Wildlife staff available for informal discussion and comments between 6 and 8 p.m.
Among the topics of discussion that may be brought up include how the five-year merger plan has combined the goals of the former Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks into a unified strategy regarding everything from big game management to trail and park development.

“Northwest Colorado provides some of the state’s best hunting, fishing, trail riding, boating and other outdoor opportunities,” Velarde said. “I encourage everyone who enjoys and benefits from our region’s parks, trails, fish and wildlife to drop by this meeting and help us chart the future of the agency.”

■ Who: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

■ What: Northwest Open House Meeting on Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Path Forward

■ When: 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 14

■ Where: Northwest Region Office, Hunter Education Building, 711 Independent Ave., Grand Junction 

To learn more about the Path Forward, visit the parks and wildlife Web page at

Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state parks, all of Colorado’s wildlife, more than 300 state wildlife areas and a host of recreational programs. To learn more, visit

Take caution driving off-highway vehicles

A recent crash on a back road in Montezuma County serves as a reminder to drivers of off-highway vehicles to be extra careful, according to officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The man operating the vehicle was driving on a dirt road in the San Juan National Forest that is open to off-highway vehicle travel. He drove into the oncoming lane at a blind curve and collided with a car. The man swerved to avoid a head-on collision but was ejected from the vehicle, hit the windshield of the car and sustained two broken toes and plenty of serious scrapes and bruises. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

The man driving the vehicle was ticketed and fined $75. In Colorado, from 1982 to 2011, the Colorado State Patrol reports that 157 people were killed in off-highway vehicle-related crashes — including 26 children younger than 16. Nationally, from 1982 to 2010, 11,000 people died in off-highway vehicle crashes, 25 percent of them younger than 16.

Off-highway vehicles can carry a lot of speed, but they’re also light, narrow and have a short wheelbase. So they are not as stable as regular vehicles on rough roads and trails where an operator might drive over boulders, rocks and tree roots. Even dirt roads in washboard condition present hazards to off-highway vehicle drivers.

Even though there are no regulations governing how many people can ride on an off-highway vehicle, passengers often interfere with the driver. Drivers can be ticketed in those situations.

On trails, drivers should be extra careful if they see horses approaching. Some horses easily spook if they see something they don’t recognize. It’s recommended that drivers pull off the trail, then get off the vehicle to allow the horse to recognize a human form. 
Reporting of crashes is required by Colorado law. Any crash that causes injuries resulting in hospitalization, death or more than $1,500 in damage to a vehicle must be reported “by the quickest available means of communication” to a local law enforcement agency. The operator involved in the crash, or someone acting on his or her behalf, also must submit a written report about the crash to Colorado Parks and Wildlife within 48 hours. The report must be compiled on the form available at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. 

To learn more about safety and regulations, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at and click on “OHVs & Snowmobiles.”

2 local sites designated important bird areas

The 921-acre Carpenter Ranch, located 3 miles east of downtown Hayden, is one of two local areas of The Nature Conservancy in Colorado designated as important bird areas by the National Audubon Society. The other site near Hayden is the 329-acre Yampa River Preserve that is open to the public year-round for birding, fishing and hiking. The preserve includes one of the largest remaining examples of a rare riparian forest dominated by narrow leaf cottonwood, box elder and red osier dogwood, according to The Nature Conservancy.

For questions about the birding walks, contact Betsy Blakeslee, Carpenter Ranch facilities manager, at 970-276-4626. More information about Carpenter Ranch and the Yampa River Preserve can be found by searching The Nature Conservancy website at

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