Vail Valley Voices: Hunting helps our lands |

Vail Valley Voices: Hunting helps our lands

Helen Hankins
Vail, CO Colorado

Colorado residents, myself included, are some of the luckiest in the nation because of the amazing landscapes and outdoor experiences available in the state we call home. As the aspen leaves turn golden and fall’s chill fills the air, I’m reminded of one of Colorado’s many assets -the abundance of big game and big-game hunting. Colorado’s public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management are home to some of the nation’s largest migratory deer and elk herds, and we take pride in managing these lands for a variety of uses, including wildlife habitat and the recreational opportunities big game herds provide Coloradans.

Hunting, managed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, plays a very important role in sustaining Colorado’s economic health. BLM Colorado recorded more than 700,000 hunting visits on public lands in 2009, and gross revenues to commercially permitted outfitters and guides on public lands exceeded $4.7 million. These hunters, from next door, across the state or around the nation, provide an economic boost to Colorado’s rural economies. At the BLM, we realized just how much of an impact public land management has on Colorado’s economy and quality of life.

BLM Colorado offers active hunting programs across all three of our districts. The Axial Basin, located in our Northwest Colorado District and managed by the Little Snake Field Office, is known for large populations of deer, elk and antelope. The BLM works across ownership boundaries to offer public hunting access on 29,000 acres of public, private and state lands in the Axial Basin. This is just one example of the BLM’s efforts to provide responsible stewardship of our state’s incredible resources while also providing the public access to enjoy these lands. When we work across ownership boundaries, everyone benefits.

BLM Colorado employees include avid outdoor adventurers and make up some of the annual migration of hunters to the backcountry. BLM Colorado’s employees are often drawn to Colorado because of their love for public lands and the quality of life our abundance of natural resources brings.

It’s a side of the BLM that sometimes gets lost in the frequent debates over the best way to manage these public lands we all share.

As any hunter would tell you, the hunt is just as much about the location, scenery and experience of solitude outdoors as the often elusive animals they are tracking. The BLM is unique in its ability to offer a no-frills experience to visitors. On BLM public lands in Colorado, you may not find many paved trails or visitor centers, but you will have a chance to find yourself while exploring your 8.3 million acres, including nearly 1 million acres set aside for conservation through wilderness and wilderness study areas, national conservation areas, and a national monument.

For more information on BLM Colorado’s public lands and hunting opportunities, call 303-239-3600 or visit BLM Colorado online at

Helen Hankins is the BLM Colorado State Director. BLM manages 8.3 million acres of public land in Colorado and 27 million acres of the public’s mineral estate.

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