Garfield County commissioners support Roan Plateau hunting access | PostIndependent.com

Garfield County commissioners support Roan Plateau hunting access

The Roan Plateau looking north from the Rifle area, as seen from the air.

With hunting access expected to be restricted on the Roan Plateau by new property owners Caerus Oil and Gas, the three Garfield County commissioners drafted a letter this week in support of local efforts to keep the land open to the public.

"We recognize the importance of supporting the fundamental elements of our rich hunting and western agricultural heritage which helps define our community," the letter reads. "If we can help Caerus navigate concerns raised about allowing hunting access on lands owned by Caerus, please do not hesitate to contact us."

Last month, Rifle resident Robert Winn started the Roan Area Access Project on Facebook in order to build local support to keep the hunting grounds open. He called a meeting in Rifle on March 29, in which around 50 local hunters in support, and some private property owners not in support, came to listen and hear more on the issue.

At the time, Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson expressed a desire to show the county's support of Winn, which it did on Monday.

For years, previous owner Encana had allowed hunting to take place on its private property on the Roan Plateau, several thousands of acres known as the "Girls Claims." But when Caerus Oil and Gas acquired the property, that agreement could no longer be expected to continue, the company said.

While Commissioner Mike Samson understood that this was private property and thus subject to private property rights, he hoped to find a solution with Caerus as the county and wildlife organizations had done with Encana for years.

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"We strongly support the principles of private property rights of land owners in our county. … We place a high value on personal private property rights for land owners to enjoy their property as they choose," but hoped to find a solution where the public can still enjoy the land as well.

"Hunting and fishing in this area is a fundamental element of the county's history and heritage that goes back many generations," the letter reads.

All three commissioners agreed to sign the letter at Monday's board meeting.