| VailDaily.com

Colorado Parks and Wildlife have leftover big-game hunting licenses on sale

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s big-game, over-the-counter licenses went on sale Thursday, Aug. 6. The licenses are unlimited in number and restricted to certain units, seasons and manners of take.

Leftover big-game licenses are also now on sale. Leftover licenses are the remaining limited licenses available after the primary and secondary draws are completed.

For more information and to purchase, visit CPW.state.co.us/leftover.

Tackling Colorado’s 53 (or is it 58?) fourteeners

Ready to climb a fourteener?

There is usually heated discussion about exactly how many peaks above 14,000 feet Colorado has. But evaluating the peaks with a topographic standard rather than emotion yields 53 that have at least 300 feet of topographic prominence, which is how high the peak rises above its surroundings. 

This excludes local peaks North Maroon Peak and Conundrum Peak in the Elk Mountains. North Maroon is often considered an “official” fourteener thanks in part to its iconic stature and the fact that the traverse over to Maroon Peak is Class 5 difficulty, which is technical rock climbing. Conundrum is a sub-summit of Castle Peak with 200 feet of topographic prominence.

There are three more peaks over 14,000 feet tall that are described on the website 14ers.com but are not ranked as fourteeners. One is Mount Cameron, a sub-summit of Mount Lincoln in the Mosquito Range. Peak baggers can summit Lincoln, Bross, Democrat and Cameron in a day. 

The last two are in the San Juan Mountains. El Diente is a sub-summit 3/4 miles from Mount Wilson with 239 feet topographic prominence. The traverse between the two peaks is Class 4 — which means handholds and footholds are required for upward or downward progress. The difficulty of the traverse qualifies Diente as a fourteener in its own right to some, according to Wikipedia.

The other is North Eolus, a sub-summit just 44 feet lower than Mount Eolus with 179 feet of topographic prominence.

Anyone interested in tackling their first (or final) fourteener can get a wealth of information from 14ers.com.

The site has topo maps with routes marked; routes described with distance, elevation gain, difficulty and risk ratings, and photos; trailhead information; and user-generated reports on trail conditions. 

Sean Van Horn recently completed Nolan’s 14, 14 fourteeners over 92.8 miles with 43,225 feet of climbing in 45 hours, 57 minutes. He has some advice for those planning to hike their first fourteener.

“Start early to avoid thunderstorms, but look at the weather, don’t just say, ‘I’ll start early and I’ll be fine no matter what.’ Storms can come in at 9 a.m. … Look at the Doppler [radar] as well to get as specific as you can, and be prepared to bail if storms come in,” he said.

The manager of Independence Run and Hike, Van Horn also stressed the importance of proper footwear.

“Invest in some good shoes that have some good traction and support so that you’ll have a better, more comfortable, safer time out there,” he said.

And be sure to pack extra clothes for changing conditions and storms.

“Bring some clothes. It can be 80 degrees down at the trailhead and with wind chill it can be 30 degrees up on top,” he said.

Proper nutrition and hydration is very important. 

“Take care of yourself; make sure you’re eating food and drinking and using some electrolytes with your water. Don’t just drink gallons of water without any salt, that can mess with your body as well,” he said.

And start with one of the easier routes.

“Start with some that are a little more straightforward, easy routes like heading up Elbert or Shavano, that are close to where we are. There are some easier ones on the Front Range like Gray’s and Torreys,” he said.

cwertheim@postindependent.com

The Runaway Grooms release music video for ‘Wildflower’ shot with VHS camera

With their debut album in March surpassing 100,000 streams, The Runaway Grooms are continuing to navigate the Colorado music scene and expanding its reach across the country. On Friday, the local band released a music video on YouTube and its website that was shot with a VHS video camera, giving it a special, unique, nostalgic feel. The music video is for The Runaway Grooms’ new track “Wildflower,” a track featured on the band’s debut album, “Tied to the Sun.”

The music video “brings viewers into a world made of friends, smiles and community, which we could all use a bit more of during these times,” a release from the band states.

From making music, hiking mountains, river running and just hanging out, the music video captures summertime in Colorado in a candid and vintage style. It was produced by LA filmmaker and screenwriter Chris Tobin, who said he wanted to “show the lifestyle of a Runaway Groom, and who these guys are: Living freely in the mountains, working to create beautiful and diverse sounds, and always with a smile.”

Born from the rich culture of the Colorado mountains, The Runaway Grooms are advancing the musical sounds of the high country into a diverse blend of Americana tones derived from Southern Rock influences of The Allman Brothers Band melded with eclectic grooves similar to legends like the Grateful Dead. Between dueling guitar solos, the fullness and raw power of a screaming lap steel guitar, and three-part harmonies, The Runaway Grooms are gaining a following in the Colorado music scene while expanding their reach all across the country.

For more information, visit The Runaway Grooms on social media — and check out “Wildflower” on YouTube or the band’s website.

Fourteen 14ers in less than 46 hours: Carbondale man hammers Nolan’s 14

There was a moment when Sean Van Horn didn’t think he could complete his Nolan’s 14 endurance run attempt.

In his bid to complete all 14 of the fourteeners — peaks with summits 14,000 feet or higher — that make up Nolan’s 14, he found himself climbing La Plata Peak alone in the middle of the night.

“I hadn’t done the backside, which is a [regular] route, it’s a trail most of the way up. It was the second night, and I was just fraying mentally and physically, and I had a really tough time. It probably would have helped if I would have actually scouted that part,” he said. “The trail kind of disappears in the talus. I was just kind of bumbling around trying to figure out where to go. I was in a tough state at that point.”

And, after a 2:17 a.m. summit, the way down from La Plata wasn’t any better.

“Quite a few people have actually gotten lost coming down off La Plata on their Nolan’s routes. I think it’s ended a couple bids. I always thought that was weird because it’s just a standard route. … But coming down that in the night I now understand how people get lost, because it’s just a big pile of rocks,” he said.

Fatigue was also setting in.

“I was stumbling around confused for a while. The body was coming apart. I kind of had to walk down that whole trail. My quads were pretty blown, and I was definitely contemplating dropping. I got in to see my crew at the bottom, and I crawled into the back of the truck, told people I need to sleep and that I might not be able to go any further. But after a couple of minutes in the truck and some goading from my friends and family I was able to get out, and the next climb up Elbert actually went pretty quickly,” he said.

In the end, Van Horn went on to post the second-fastest time on record for the Nolan’s 14.

The course goes over 14 of Colorado’s fourteeners between Mount Massive on the north end and Mount Shavano on the south in either direction. 

Originally a race, people now do it on their own and submit their time to the website http://mattmahoney.net/nolans14/.

Van Horn climbed 43,225 feet over 92.8 miles in 45 hours, 57 minutes, according to his Strava data.

Though he picked the days for his attempt based on the weather forecast, Van Horn, 33, got into some trouble on a mountaintop.

“We got caught in a pretty decent lightning storm on top of Oxford. … I was a little concerned,” he explained. “My friend Andrew [Letherby] was with me at the time. He’s super positive and upbeat, and he was like, ‘We’ll be fine, no worries, it doesn’t look that bad.’ As we get up closer lightning starts cracking off with graupel the size of quarters coming down.”

Bad weather on an exposed peak can very quickly make for a dangerous situation.

“I was pretty freaked out, I just wanted to run off the mountain, I didn’t even care about the effort at that point,” Van Horn said. “My poles were buzzing and crackling [with electricity]. I was petrified. We ended up hiding out by this rock outcropping for a while until it subsided a bit, and then kept going towards Belford,” he said.

Van Horn relayed the common experience among endurance athletes, the inevitable low and coming out of it.

“Everyone’s going to have a big low at some point in an effort like that. After two nights with no sleep you’re probably going to start to fray at the edges at some point. I’m kind of glad I had a good low by myself out there. It makes it feel like more of a challenge I really had to overcome. If it all went smoothly and I didn’t come apart at some point then it would have lessened it in a way,” he said.

Somehow knowing lows happen and are temporary is forgotten in the exhaustion of the moment.

“This is the third thing I’ve done that’s a day or longer, and every long effort I’ve done so far you have a low when you think you’re done. Your body hurts and your brain is crying out for respite, but the body and brain just come back around. I seem to forget this every single time I’m out there, and I think the new low I’ve had is the lowest low I’ve ever had and I’ll never get out of it, but it is kind of amazing that if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other it comes back around,” he said.

Even some of the parts that were less dramatic were still challenging.

“Princeton is probably the crux of the route. On the descent off the north side the whole mountain just wants to move. There’s just rocks the size of small refrigerators that are trying to come down on top of you, so I did that with Casey [Weaver] in the night, and I hadn’t scouted it out. That was pretty heinous,” Van Horn said.

“I think the fact that it was in the middle the night, and we were both kind of tired [made it dangerous]. … It was a talus slope, really loose, everything was moving, if you step on it wrong it would turn over on your ankle. We moved slowly through it,” Weaver, 30, said.

Weaver also did a few laps with Van Horn during his uphill record attempt at Buttermilk last year.

Like the Mount Princeton descent, much of the Nolan’s route is off trail.

“A lot of it is nonstandard [routes]. I’m not sure what the percentage breakdown is but I’d say 40% or so is on more established routes,” Van Horn said.

Because of that, it is a much more solitary experience than climbing 14ers can be.

“Luckily on the Nolan’s route a lot is off-trail so you really don’t see too many people. That was pretty cool to be out there with myself and my pacer for a lot of the sections. I saw two other people who were doing Nolan’s while I was out there, which was kind of cool. It’s definitely becoming a more popular route this year with COVID,” he said.

COVID was a factor in Van Horn’s decision to try the Nolan’s 14.

“It was difficult to think about signing up for anything with the uncertainty of it all. We weren’t sure if we should travel to races, what’s correct, what’s the right thing to do. It just seemed easier to come up with a plan for an effort on my own to get out and challenge myself,” he said.

Van Horn didn’t sleep during his nearly two-day effort. 

“In the back of the truck [after La Plata] I probably slept for 30 seconds or one minute. I had the intention of trying to sleep more. I was super tired, but my thoughts were racing, ‘Just keep moving.’ Once the sun came up I felt pretty good actually,” he said.

Sean Van Horn climbs Mount Huron.
Joe Demoor

He started at 5:11 p.m. on July 30 and finished at 3:08 p.m. on Aug. 1. While many people opt to start early after a night’s sleep, Van Horn sees an advantage to an afternoon start.

“People seem to start at all different times. A lot of people start in the morning because that’s kind of traditional, but I do think there can be one big advantage to starting [later]. The two other fastest times started in the evening. … One of the main ideas is that you’re in that first night when you’re not that tired. So I had good energy through the first night because I was only a couple of hours in, whereas if you start at 6 in the morning by the time it gets dark you’ve already been moving for 14 or 15 hours and you’re pretty worked, and that night kind of gets to you a little bit more,” he said.

Van Horn ran some alone and had pacers for part of the trip. Casey Weaver did Princeton. Joe Demoor did Missouri and Huron, and Kyle Young did Elbert and Massive with Van Horn.

“There are a few sections where I definitely wanted some people because I didn’t know the route as well. … I didn’t do that many sections solo, which was good and bad. I like being alone, but it was a long time to be out there, and it was honestly pretty nice to have company,” he said.

Van Horn has had recurring back problems that concerned him some in the leadup to his attempt.

Sean Van Horn and Cam Smith climb Mount Massive, Van Horn’s final peak in his Nolan’s 14 bid.
Kyle Young

“With my injury history with my back I’m grateful my body held up and I was able to finish it. I always have some back stuff going on. It was bugging me a bit in the weeks going into it,” he said.

While he said rest and recovery is in his immediate future, he might try another similar effort someday.

“I’m not sure what’s next, but I’d like to do more things and routes like this just because I think the process leading up to it and the training is so fun. So maybe the Wind River high route, or maybe something up in Washington where I’m from,” he said.

Weaver said that Van Horn is quite unusual even among endurance athletes.

“Sean’s one of the most incredible athletes I know. He’s physically very talented; he’s been a serious endurance athlete since he was very young. … Serious endurance athletes have an interesting relationship with pain and discomfort, they appreciate it and understand its value, they see it as a means to an end. Sean’s the only one person I’ve ever met who has real enjoyment of the discomfort as an end in itself. … Between that mindset and that ability to dig a lot deeper than anyone else I know he’s more capable than anyone else out there,” Weaver said.

Van Horn said the best part of the experience was the preparation.

“It was a great summer. … What I really liked with this was it got me out on some pretty fun alpine routes that allowed me and [wife] Kylee to get out and explore and spend time in beautiful places, so that was pretty cool,” he said.

cwertheim@postindependent.com

Opposition grows to new Colorado rule requiring purchase of hunting, fishing license to access some public lands

An animal rights group opposed to hunting has sued Colorado Parks and Wildlife over a new rule that requires visitors to buy a hunting or fishing license to access State Wildlife Areas and State Trust Lands. The lawsuit comes as a diverse group of users of state public lands — hikers, climbers and paddlers — urge Colorado Parks and Wildlife to delay implementation of the new licensing regulation. 

The license requirement imposed at the end of June fails to distinguish between residents and visitors who who buy licenses for hunting and fishing and people who might buy the license for non-consumptive uses of public lands like hiking, bird-watching, rafting and stand-up paddling, Friends of Animals argued in lawsuit filed Tuesday in Denver District Court.  

CPW passed the new regulation requiring hunting and fishing licenses to access the state’s 350-plus State Wildlife Areas and nearly 240 State Trust Lands in late April after seeing unintended uses on lands meant to protect wildlife. The new regulation comes as the agency sees increasing use by visitors who are not hunting or fishing on lands that are protected for wildlife conservation.  

(A fishing license costs $35 for residents and $97 for non-residents. All licenses, except one-day fishing and hunting permits, require a $10 habitat stamp. Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s annual state parks pass is not valid for accessing State Wildlife Areas.) 

The agency, which is not supported by public tax dollars, also is tweaking its fee structure to offset project budget shortfalls as hunting and fishing license revenues decline. Revenue from hunting and fishing licenses was used to acquire many State Wildlife Areas and pay for access to State Trust Lands. 

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

He wasn’t the best skier, but he was Colorado’s preeminent ski bum. Farewell, Charlie Toups.

Charlie Toups was the consummate ski bum. He spent more than 30 years of his life sleeping in cars in snowy slopeside parking lots so he could ski all day.

He wasn’t the best skier. He didn’t have the latest gear. He didn’t ski the hardest lines or boast the prettiest form. But he was out there every day. From the late 1970s to 2010, he lived in ski area parking lots. For many of those years, home was a Volkswagen Beetle. He had ripped out the passenger seat so he could unfold his lanky frame. The Beetle spent many years at the base of Aspen Highlands and more than a decade buried in the corner of the Loveland ski area lot. 

“He had to tunnel down to it. That car was basically a snow cave,” said Halsted Morris, a longtime Loveland skier and avalanche educator who serves as president of the American Avalanche Association. “Not a lot of people went to visit him in there. The smell was a bit ripe, I remember. He was one of the true last ski bums, that’s for sure. I don’t think you’ll see his kind for a long time.” 

Toups crashed his mountain bike near Montezuma on July 27. He suffered a head injury and died at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood a few days shy of his 74th birthday.

Charlie Toups posted this photo of himself with his bike on his Facebook page in 2016 with the words “I AM SPARTACUS!”
Special to the Daily |

Toups worked afternoons in the Loveland kitchen back when the Beetle was buried. At Aspen Highlands, he would wake up at dawn every morning and place his skis first in line at the lift. He would bootpack snow with ski patrol all morning for a lift ticket. At night he would stock shelves at the local grocery. Many remember him grazing from abandoned trays in the cafeteria.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

Drive-in movies, Vail Dance Festival and more: Tricia’s weekend picks 8/7/20

Beaver Creek Weekend Happs

Head on up to Beaver Creek for some live music, a silent disco and an a la carte menu at Zusamenn this weekend. The Beav’ has music every day of the week from 2 to 8 p.m. but on Fridays check out F.A.C. (Friday Afternoon Club) from 3 to 5 p.m. on the plaza. Families can not only enjoy live music but also bites from local restaurants, refreshing beverages, shopping, games and more.

Follow F.A.C. is a family-friendly silent disco from 5 to 8 p.m. Complimentary pairs of headphones are handed out so you can dance to the rhythm of your own beat or pair up with someone who is also dancing to that frequency. If you miss the dancing on Friday or didn’t get enough, the silent disco is offered on Saturdays from 5 to 8 p.m., too.

On Saturday, check out Zusamenn, which is a celebration of food and community. Loosely translated from its German roots, zusamenn means something collective or a gathering. The gatherings will be more socially-distanced this summer, but the live music will be performed by crowd favorites Spinphony on the rink stage between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Spinphony is an all-female electric string quartet out of Denver. They blend Bach with AC/DC for a unique, high energy sound.

The event is free to attend and you can purchase food and drinks along the way. This festival of flavors was created by Beaver Creek’s renowned chefs and restaurants. Visit village restaurants to select from delectable small plates and signature beverages and cocktails. For more information, please view beavercreek.com.

Drive-in Movies

Drive-in movies are a perfect way to see a flick during a pandemic. The Blue Starlite Drive-In returns to Minturn this summer with classic movies and safety measures in place to watch a movie on the big screen this weekend.

The 1985 adventure comedy “Goonies” will be showing on Friday night. Get tickets in advance online and read all of the COVID-19 safety protocols. You can even order concessions in advance and those items will be provided to you when you arrive as to limit the time people are out of their cars.

“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is showing on Saturday night. This 1989 film is the last in the three-part series that starred Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Sean Connery plays Indian Jones’ father.

Both movies start at 8:50 p.m. and the gates open at 8 p.m. Purchase tickets in advance online and learn more at bluestarlitedrivein.com.

Vail Dance Festival: Digital Edition

The 32nd annual Vail Dance Festival kicked off last week and although the dancers weren’t able to gather physically on the stage in Vail, their on-screen presence has touched the Vail Valley and beyond. The Vail Dance Festival: Digital Edition showcased world premieres that happened in Vail in recent years and really offered a “best of” look at what makes the Vail Dance Festival so special. The performances have been shown on Vail Dance Festival’s Facebook and YouTube accounts and all shows will be available until August 15.  

Opening night seemed to have the most comments on social media and the numbers show that there are around 63,000 views across Facebook and YouTube. Facebook provides a breakdown of where people are watching the videos and although most viewers are from the US, data showed that viewers were tuning in all over Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America.

Closing night is Friday at 6 p.m. online. Damian Woetzel, the artistic director of the Vail Dance Festival, hosts this digital show remotely. Woetzel will walk you through what performances you will see and highlight some of the artists involved. “Carolina Shout” will be shown first. This 2019 world premiere features dancers Michelle Dorrance and Lil Buck along with music by jazz pianist Jason Moran.

The second part of the show will feature the 2017 premiere of “we seem to be more than one.” This performance was a collaboration between tap-dancing sensation, Michelle Dorrnance and various artists at the festival and brings in dance moves from tap, ballet, contemporary, jookin’, flamenco, and modern traditions.

Celebrate this summer tradition in Vail by watching the Vail Dance Festival and to learn more about how you can support the festival and the artists during these trying times, visit vaildance.org.

Nottingham Park activities

Please note that Nottingham Lake will be closed for the USA Swimming Open Water Championships but the Harry A. Nottingham Park will still be open and offers plenty of things to do without adding water.

Nottingham Lake will be closed from 7:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. This will include the beach and grass area on the north side of the lake. There will be no fishing, boating, SUPing or swimming allowed during this time, but there are still lots of amenities in the park to enjoy.

Tennis, anyone? The Harry A. Nottingham Park not only has three tennis courts, but it also has four pickleball courts, two basketball courts and two athletic fields for rent. The playground equipment will be open as well. The bike path around the lake and the park is perfect for the littlest bikers since there isn’t much of an incline to wear them out. It’s also great if you’ve fired up those rollerblades and want to cruise on a path that is smooth and flat.

Nottingham Park also has grills and picnic tables in case you want to have a cookout. Or, order meals from one of the many nearby restaurants and enjoy dining with a view. If you want to also enjoy an adult beverage, the Avon Town Council allows open containers and public consumption of alcohol at Nottingham Park and on the Main Street Pedestrian Mall between 11:30 a.m. and until 30 minutes after dusk. For more information, go to avon.org.

Aspen Skiing Co. expects to lose most international business this winter

Aspen Skiing Co. officials are acknowledging that one of their bread-and-butter markets could be reduced to crumbs this winter.

International travelers comprise between 10 and 20 percent of Skico’s annual skier visits, typically fluctuating due to the strength of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies and the condition of the world economy. But international travel has been highly restricted by governments around the globe and airlines have drastically cut back on international flights in response to the coronavirus crisis. No change in conditions is anticipated soon.

“January is going to be significantly impacted by our lack of international,” Rich Burkley, Skico senior vice president of strategic planning, said at a community teleconference meeting last week in Aspen. “We’re expecting international business to be about zero.”

The loss of international business is particularly tough because overseas visitors tend to stay longer and ski more days during their vacations.

Skico hasn’t released exact international business numbers publicly for several years for competitive reasons. In the winter of 2006-07, international business accounted for 18% of 1.44 million skier visits, company officials said at the time.

Aspen and Vail are among resorts that have successfully lured international travelers in the past. However, international business plays an important role for the U.S. ski industry overall. A report for the National Ski Areas Association after the 2018-19 season showed that resorts in the Rocky Mountain Region pulled in 1.8% of their skier visits from Canada and 3.1% from other international markets that season. That’s potentially a loss of 5% of the market.

Alterra Mountain Co., a sister company to Aspen Skiing Co., anticipates a “significant decline in volume from all major international markets” for 2020-21, according to Kristin Rust, director of public relations.

“We do believe that will be back, thanks to years of investment, so we look to stay present in-market, but with a focus on 21-22,” Rust said.

Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications, said January is the biggest month for international business from Skico’s top two overseas markets — Australia and Brazil. No one is expecting anywhere close to traditional numbers.

“We’re moving forward to ramp up our efforts domestically,” Hanle said.

In his presentation at the community meeting, Burkley specifically identified Los Angeles, Houston and Kansas City as “drive markets” that could potentially be tapped for increased business in winter 2020-21.

Ralf Garrison, a longtime travel industry researcher, said there remain many unknowns about travel patterns for the ski season. While a loss in international business seems likely, he noted that summer produced surprises such as the “sheltering at resort” phenomena. Urban dwellers flocked to mountain resorts to escape the novel coronavirus and social unrest. Some of them have decided to stay, fueling a real estate sales boom and school enrollment surge.

The return of demand exceeded expectations this summer, he said.

Garrison is one of the founders of the Insight Collective, a volunteer group of researchers who examine data and provide analysis of travel issues affecting Western resorts.

It’s clear that the virus won’t be contained by winter, he said. The group’s hypothesis is travelers will prefer driving rather than flying and that outdoor activities will still be in demand because of their relative safety.

The time is “rapidly approaching” when overseas skiers and snowboarders with advance bookings will be forced to cancel their plans — just as people with advance bookings tended to cancel for summer, Garrison said.

But re-bookings by a group he labeled “adventuresome, early adapters” paved the way for an unexpected, strong summer for many resorts. His group will watch to see if the same trend holds true for winter.

“The demand side is going to shrink. It’s going to go regionally,” he said, referring to the preference of many people to drive rather than fly.

Ski areas will have a reduced ability to accommodate skiers and riders because of social distancing requirements. That will mean fewer people sharing gondola cabins and lift chairs. As a result, ski areas will have a reduced “COVID capacity” that may be one-third to one-half of normal winter capacity, Garrison said. The question is, will reduced supply be less than the reduced demand?

Aspen Skiing Co. officials are asking themselves the same questions.

“We are really committed to providing as much skiing and snowboarding as we can,” Burkley said at the community meeting. “We know this is not going to be a normal season and we’re going to start asking for patience, flexibility and understanding because there’s going to be a lot of changes and it’s definitely not going to be business as normal.”

scondon@aspentimes.com

Pandemic could have little effect on Colorado’s hunting season

COVID-19 might be affecting nearly every corner of the Coloradan way of life, but hunting could remain insulated from the virus, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) spokesperson said.

“Part of our challenge with predicting the pandemic is it seems things change on a day-to-day basis,” CPW spokesperson Randy Hampton said. “But at this point it does not appear there will be any impact on hunting seasons from our perspective.”

In fact, applications for hunting licenses actually increased compared to last year, he said. 

“Much of the increase is due to resident interest, but non-resident applications were up slightly over last year, too,” Hampton said. “However, that doesn’t tell us what will happen in October and November when we get into the big rifle seasons.”

While the state hosts hunting seasons for myriad game, including bears, turkeys, pronghorn and mountain lions, the biggest license sellers are deer and elk. 

In 2019, Colorado sold about 219,000 elk licenses, and hunters were able to harvest approximately 37,000 of those animals. 

Hampton explained the hunter success rate for elk is much lower than for deer, because elk tend to stay in harder-to-reach elevations for longer. Of the 92,000 deer licenses sold in 2019, hunters harvested 36,000.

While COVID-19 might not decrease the number of licenses sold, CPW might sell less out-of-state licenses, which could directly impact its revenue.

“A resident might pay $55 for an elk tag, but a non-resident would pay $670 for that same tag,” Hampton said.

Because of the pandemic, CPW is lessening its refund request submittal requirements from 30 days prior to the season to 15 days prior to the season. 

Once refunded the license goes back into the pool available for sale, so if an out-of-state hunter requested a refund, an in-state hunter could scoop up the license, leaving room to drastically alter CPW’s revenue stream.

Huntress resolved

Ultimate Huntress competitor and Silt resident Jackie Guccini said the pandemic will not interfere with her hunting plans whatsoever.

“For local hunters, I don’t think (COVID-19) will affect hunting at all,” Guccini said. “I don’t need to buy anything from a store, so even if they were closed, I already have everything I need to go.”

Born and raised in Louisiana, the 37-year-old said she’s hunted since she was about 7.

“I love hunting elk, but the challenge of antelope and turkey is what I really love,” Guccini said. “My preferred hunting method is archery.” 

Drawn to Colorado in 2007 by the oil fields, she said she now calls the Rockies home, but each year she hunts all over the U.S. with a group of female hunters.

“Everyone I’ve talked to is still planning to hunt this year,” Guccini said. “But where some would travel to hunt in other states, some are saying they are going to stay and hunt in their home states. For my husband and I, we still plan to travel for hunting.” 

The reluctance to hunt out of state has more to do with travel restrictions than infection rates, she said. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, are suggesting people who travel out of state should self-quarantine for 14 days after returning. If those quarantines are made mandatory, Guccini said some of her fellow hunters wouldn’t be able to manage the extra time off from work.

Allure of the outdoors

Heading into 2020, CPW was considering cutting staff on the parks side of the agency because of declining revenues, Hampton said.

An influx of visitors during the pandemic, however, completely eliminated CPW’s funding concerns this year, he explained. 

“We’re very proud of the fact we’ve been able to keep the parks open,” Hampton said. “And park attendance has been through the roof since the pandemic began.”

Fishing license sales, too, are on the up and up. Across the board, people are heading outside and recreating more than in years previous.

“The outdoor industry has certainly seen a boost this year,” Hampton said. “I know bike places that sold their entire inventory for the year in just the month of May. Kayaks and paddle-boards are sold out everywhere.”

CPW receives a portion of its funding from a federal excise tax on outdoor sporting goods, and a recent spike in firearms and ammunition sales has kept that revenue stream strong this year, he added.

“This is a serious disease, and people are losing their lives — there’s nothing good about it,” Hampton said. “But outdoor recreation seems to be thriving under the current conditions.”

ifredregill@postindependent.com

President Trump signs Great American Outdoors Act, a $3B-a-year plan to boost conservation, parks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed legislation Tuesday that will devote nearly $3 billion a year to conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands following its overwhelming approval by both parties in Congress.

“There hasn’t been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect,” Trump said, seemingly comparing himself to the 26th president, an avowed environmentalist who created many national parks, forests and monuments that millions of Americans flock to each year.

Supporters say the Great American Outdoors Act is the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century. Opponents countered that the money isn’t enough to cover the estimated $20 billion maintenance backlog on federally owned lands.

At a White House bill-signing ceremony, Trump failed to give Democrats any credit for their role in helping to pass the measure, mispronounced the name of one of America’s most famous national parks, blamed a maintenance backlog that has been decades in the making on the Obama administration and claimed to have deterred a march to Washington that had been planned to tear down monuments in the nation’s capital. No such march was ever planned.

The Great American Outdoors Act requires full, permanent funding of the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund and addresses the maintenance backlog facing national parks and public lands. The law would spend about $900 million a year — double current spending — on the conservation fund and another $1.9 billion per year on improvements at national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and range lands.

Trump in the budget proposals he has sent to Congress had previously recommended cutting money allocated to the fund, but reversed course and requested full funding in March.

Interior Secretary David Bernardt said the law will help create more than 100,000 jobs.

The maintenance backlog has been a problem for decades, through Republican and Democratic administrations. Trump falsely claimed it was caused by the “last administration.”

The House and the Senate cleared the bill by overwhelming bipartisan margins this summer, including significant support from congressional Democrats. No Democratic lawmakers attended the ceremony and Trump, in his remarks, credited only Republicans.

Asked why Democrats weren’t recognized, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said it was because Democrats and Republicans — including the administration — have yet to agree on extending now-expired coronavirus relief payments and protections.

Her answer focused on Senate Democrats’ rejection of a proposal by Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., for a one-week extension of a special federal unemployment benefit. She ignored that Senate Republicans themselves are divided over how to proceed on a larger relief package.

“The only thing we’re recognizing about congressional Democrats right now is how appalling it is that there are Americans who are going without paychecks because they refused to partner with Martha McSally, Republicans and the president in ensuring that those payments go out.”

Among the bills’ congressional champions are Republican Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana. Both are among the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents, and each one represents a state where the outdoor economy and tourism at sites such as the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone national parks play an outsize role.

Daines and Gardner persuaded Trump to support the legislation, which Gardner has made the cornerstone of his reelection campaign.

Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington state, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Tom Udall of New Mexico all were instrumental in getting the bill passed. Cantwell has spent years working to reauthorize and fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and she worked with Gardner and Daines to make it happen.

“For all of us who’ve fought for years to protect our public lands and invest in our outdoor recreation economy, today is a historic win for America’s beloved shared spaces,” Cantwell said in a statement that criticized environmental and public health rollbacks by Trump that benefit the oil and gas industry.

The law’s mostly Republican opponents complained it would not eliminate an estimated $20 billion maintenance backlog on 640 million acres (259 million hectares) of federally owned lands. The legislation authorizes $9.5 billion for maintenance over five years.

Lawmakers from Gulf Coast states also complained that their states get too small a share of revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling that is used to replenish the conservation fund.

Ivanka Trump, the Republican president’s daughter and adviser who supported the legislation, described it at the ceremony as a “great legacy” for the administration as well as the country.

In discussing the beauty of national parks Tuesday, President Trump tripped over one name when he referred to Yosemite’s towering sequoia trees. He twice mispronounced “Yosemite’s” as yoh-SEH’-mytz instead of yoh-SEM’-it-eez.

Trump also claimed an executive order highlighting the threat of up to 10 years in prison for defacing federal monuments was the reason a march to Washington for the sole purpose of destroying statues was canceled.

People protesting racial injustice after George Floyd’s death in police custody in May began toppling monuments around the country of Confederate and other figures considered racist, but no such march to Washington was ever planned.

“They were having a march on Washington to knock down a lot of monuments, and I signed it before the march,” Trump said of the executive order he signed June 26. “We announced it at a news conference that you go to jail for 10 years if you knock down a monument, and the march to Washington never happened. I don’t know — that’s strange how that all works. Isn’t it, though? Isn’t that a beautiful thing?”

The Rev. Al Sharpton is planning a march on Washington for Aug. 28, the anniversary of the 1963 march in the nation’s capital led by Martin Luther King Jr.