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Thanks to a unanimous approval from the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission, hunters in the Public Access Program will have more than 200,000 new acres to hunt on in 2020.

At its virtual meeting on May 7, the CPW Commission unanimously approved the enrollment of 210,000 acres into the Public Access Program for the fall 2020 hunting season, bringing the program to a total of 777,000 acres. 

The Public Access Program provides limited, seasonal hunting and fishing opportunities on Colorado trust land across the state. 

“Colorado is known for our incredible natural beauty, and I’m committed to expanding the public’s access to and enjoyment of our treasured state and federal land,” Gov. Jared Polis said. “CPW’s Public Access Program for sportsmen and women is growing just in time for the upcoming 2020 hunting season. We will continue looking at more opportunities to increase access and help relieve overcrowded areas. The Public Access Program is one of several ways hunters and anglers can get out in Colorado. Colorado spans 66.6 million acres and 23 million acres of public land is available for hunting.”

Locations of the new lands enrolled in the Public Access Program for fall 2020’s hunting season will be announced with the release of the 2020 Colorado Recreational Lands Brochure later this year. The Public Access Program currently includes 567,000 acres.

“I congratulate the Parks and Wildlife Commission and the State Land Board for expanding access to Colorado state lands,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources. “The expansion of the Public Access Program passed by CPW will grow the program by 37 percent to 777,000 acres over the next year. Colorado is a growing state with increased demand for hunting and angling access. In the coming years, Governor Polis and the Department of Natural Resources will continue to seek additional access opportunities to encourage Coloradans to experience, explore and enjoy the outdoors.”  

The vote was the next step in a multi-year effort to grow the Public Access Program to up to one million acres.

Last year, CPW enrolled lands in the plains of Eastern Colorado where bird hunting and small game hunting are popular to provide a broader array of opportunities on state trust lands. Before that, the majority of public access was located in Northwestern Colorado where there is prime big game hunting. The newly enrolled acres will further expand the geography and hunting opportunities available on properties enrolled in the Public Access Program.

Public access for wildlife-related recreation on state trust lands is made possible through the Public Access Program, a lease agreement between the State Land Board and CPW. CPW is funding the expansion of the program through hunting and fishing license fees made available through the ‘Future Generations Act’ approved by the Colorado General Assembly in 2018.  

“I’m thrilled that hunters and anglers will have more access to state trust lands in Colorado this season,” said Dan Prenzlow, CPW Director. “Hunters and anglers are a critical foundation to wildlife conservation. They make significant contributions to our local economy, especially rural economies. It’s an added benefit that our Public Access Program helps fund Colorado school kids.”

Three million acres of land in Colorado have been held in a trust since statehood in 1876 for the purpose of funding public schools. The State Land Board generates revenue from these state trust lands by leasing the land for a variety of purposes, including hunting and recreation. Leasing of state trust lands earned $1.7 billion for Colorado public schools since 2008 and provided the primary funding source for the Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools Today program.

State trust lands enrolled in the Public Access Program are open to a variety of wildlife-related uses, primarily hunting and fishing. In addition, the State Land Board leases or permits other uses such as agriculture, mining, oil & gas and renewable energy. 

Hunters and anglers are encouraged to be mindful and respectful of other authorized uses on these lands. For hunter safety, wildlife protection and the integrity of the land and other uses, the public must follow the rules and regulations at each property enrolled in the program. Unauthorized activity on state trust lands is subject to enforcement.

For more information about the Public Access Program visit CPW’s website.The public may view land enrolled in the Public Access Program using CPW’s Hunting ATLAS. 

This content was originally published here.