Governor Jared Polis signs executive order protecting big game migration corridors
Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order Wednesday that could protect future generations of big game on the wintery ranges of Moffat County.
According to a news release, the new executive order will focus on “protecting traditional migration corridors of Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and moose.”
Big game hunting is a major part of Moffat County’s economy, especially during the peak hunting season beginning in September.
The release said the order directs Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Transportation to collaborate on migration patterns, regulatory and legislative opportunities for habitat conservation, safe wildlife passages that reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, as well as education and outreach efforts to help teach the public about important migration areas.
“Migration corridors are essential for healthy herds and wildlife habitat,” said Don Holmstrom, co-chair of the Colorado chapter of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Since 2001, Colorado has lost more than half a million acres of habitat due to development and our growing population. Governor Polis’ executive order has given sportsmen and women a valuable tool to protect migration corridors, and BHA thanks the governor for his leadership on this issue.”
Colorado’s branch of the National Wildlife Federation also approved of the executive order.
“As someone who has hunted across the west, I am deeply appreciative of Governor Polis’ executive order,” said Kassi Smith, artemis ambassador for Colorado’s National Wildlife Federation. “Protecting migration corridors protects our sporting traditions and the wildlife all Coloradans enjoy. This is a seminal moment in our state’s conservation history that will be celebrated for generations to come.”
The new executive order and the desire to protect big game migration corridors may come into conflict with Moffat County’s energy interests, who in 2018 contributed an estimated $2.9 million in tax dollars, according to Commissioner Ray Beck. Beck said oil and gas production is a major part of Moffat County’s energy economy, which makes up approximately 61% of Moffat County’s assessed value for the purposes of property taxes.
The news release said Polis’ order will remain in effect until May 1, 2023 unless it is modified or removed prior to that date.