Hunters, anglers given voice at CPW roundtable
Hunters and anglers will get a chance to bend Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s ear Thursday at a sportsmen’s and -women’s roundtable in Meeker.
CPW’s northwest region roundtable, which will begin at 6 p.m. in the White River Electric Association building, is open to the public, though its focus is on hearing comments from sportsmen and -women.
“There are several pressing issues that directly impact our sportsmen on the table,” said CPW Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde. “From winter conditions, mule deer numbers and predator management to CPW’s financial sustainability, this is where sportsmen can come listen, learn and give their input.
“Hunters and anglers understand how important our wildlife is, not only to them but the entire state as well,” said Velarde. “Big decisions are coming, and it is critical for them to have their voices heard as an organized group, and this meeting is one place they can do that.”
What’s important is that this truly is a sportsmen’s roundtable, not something that CPW runs, said Mike Porras, CPW northwest region spokesman. “We’re there to answer any questions, but essentially this is an avenue for sportsmen to voice their opinion on any issue they want.”
The members of the northwest roundtable will then meet for the state roundtable in March, where they will convey the comments they heard in Meeker.
This roundtable is an open forum for hunters and anglers to bring up any issues they want, though some recent issues, like CPW’s recently approved and controversial predator control plan for the Piceance Basin and Upper Arkansas River Valley, are bound to be discussed.
Other topics, like the agency’s financial sustainability, license numbers, length of seasons, the mule deer population and access issues are commonly heard at these roundtables, said Porras.
These discussions also often draw ranchers, environmentalists, commercial outfitters and guides, said Terry Burkhard, a lifetime hunter and angler from Palisade who’s participated in the roundtables.
A fourth-generation Coloradan, Burkhard said he’s seen a lot of changes in the demands for managing wildlife as the number of interests that CPW has to manage has increased.
In the past, hunting and fishing were much more prevalent in Colorado, whereas now wildlife is managed for many other interests as well, said Burkhard, who’s also a hunting instructor.
The roundtable’s purpose is to get as many of those diverse perspectives together to express their views and to have an intelligent forum, he said.
“It’s up to us as hunters and fishermen to care for the wildlife to ensure that it’s perpetuated,” he said.
Burkhard, who also volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America, said he’d like to see more youth get involved in the sport of hunting and to see how wildlife is managed in Colorado. “It’s a very viable industry in this state.”
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