Hunting Zone Improvements & Blind Construction in Stagecoach State Park

STATUS: COMPLETED

Description from Stagecoach State Park – Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Proposal Detail  In an effort to reduce user conflict, enhance public safety and improve both the success and quality of waterfowl hunting in the park, CPW staff would like to:

• Install 6 designated hunting zones and 1 permanent blind (it is envisaged that a 2nd blind may be incorporated into a future project). It is anticipated that in combination these hunting zones and blind will provide enhanced seasonal waterfowl hunting opportunities while not reducing harvest success. The blind would allow enhanced mobility-impaired access and comfort during the waterfowl season as well as provide excellent off season watchable wildlife and fishing opportunities.

o The final designation of the hunting zones and blind(s) will be determined through a stakeholder consultation process. In year one, a hunter focus group will be asked to assess the zones size and positioning and provide feedback prior to a final decision being made for future seasons.  Careful zone and blind placement will allow for areas not currently utilized to be made available enhancing hunting opportunities. Direction of fire and hunting pressure would also be more controllable under the zone system improving both guest safety as well as safety of Stagecoach area residents and visitors using the adjacent county roads.

o The planned location for the mobility-impaired access blind is along the shoreline at the northeast corner of the new wetland area. This blind would take advantage of the unutilized vehicle turn out and access road to provide mobility impaired parking. A graded or paved trail would then join the parking area to the existing Lakeside Trail, which in turn would provide easy access to the blind. Once built, this mobility-impaired blind would provide excellent in season waterfowl hunting opportunities as well as great off season fishing and wildlife watching access. Ideally this blind would be positioned slightly off shore and accessed via a ramp. Fluctuating water conditions will need to be taken into consideration when developing the final design for this blind.

o In addition, CPW staff will continue to work with the private landowner on the south shore of the reservoir in an effort to secure a seasonal or permanent easement to improve access to hunting opportunities along that shoreline.

• Redefine small game hunting locations in the Park.

o CPW staff recommends closing the park to small game hunting, with the exception of the extreme southeast corner south of the dam, which is adjacent to the South Shore BLM parcel. In addition, the configuration and size of available hunting areas combined with small game species availability makes safe and successful small game hunting on the park extremely difficult. For this reason, very limited small game hunting currently occurs on the park.  CPW staff does not anticipate that this will result in a loss of recreation opportunities, nor will a significant number of users be impacted by this closure.

• Restrict waterfowl hunting to the proposed hunting zones and blind as well as creating a park based reservation system.

o To allow enhanced control of resource use and to ensure hunter and public safety, CPW staff recommends restricting hunting to designated zones/blind.  As the zones will be placed to maintain optimal access to waterfowl; restricting access to these areas shouldn’t reduce hunter success. This combined with the reduced stress on visiting waterfowl populations should enhance the hunting opportunity while providing for improved public safety. Dependent on demand, the park may also consider restricting user days in the future if deemed necessary to allow for resting/recovery for the birds.

o Barr Lake, Highline and James M Robb Colorado River State Park’s have reported positive hunter feedback by instigating an in-house reservation system.  Prior to the reservation system at both James M Robb and Highline State Park’s hunters had become frustrated by getting up early only to be unsuccessful in securing a hunting area due to their first come first serve reservation system.  In both instances (these areas utilize hunting blinds), if the blind is not reserved then it becomes first come/first serve, which is the model Stagecoach State Park would like to adopt. Both Highline and James M Robb indicated that the reservation system has had negligible impact on park operations.

 Stagecoach State Park would further like to implement the following;

• Waterfowl hunting zones may be reserved 14 days in advance, Monday through Friday through the Park Office.

• Reserved zones/blind unoccupied by 7 AM, and vacated zones/blind, would be available on a first come first serve basis.

• Each hunter or group may only reserve two zones per hunting day.

• Zone occupancy would be capped at 6 per group for safety reasons.

• Designated zones of fire will be posted for each area.

o By restricting hunting to designated zones/blind, hunting from a vessel would be prohibited. Historically however, waterfowl hunting from a vessel has not been popular; subsequently, CPW staff does not believe that this change will alter hunting opportunities or success.  Hunters will still be allowed to access hunting zones from a vessel when the reservoir is still open to such use as well as in the retrieval of game.

 Remove the restriction prohibiting waterfowl hunting within 100 feet from any developed area including parking lots, campgrounds, picnic areas, boat ramps, and the wetland trail.

o Removing this restriction would allow zones to be placed in optimal locations for hunter success.

o The restriction to hunting only from designated zones and enforcing approved “zones of fire” from each location would ensure safety concerns are accommodated despite this change.

Funding

Hunting Zones    By instigating a zone based hunting management system; overheads will be kept to a minimum. Once the designated zones are finalized, permanent markers and signage will be erected detailing the various zone boundaries. These permanent markers will be augmented seasonally by incorporating additional markers as needed to ensure hunter compliance by improving visibility. A hunt zone check in stations and accompanying signage will be also added in phase one.

Mobility-Impaired Blind    The construction of a permanent, aesthetically pleasing and functional waterfowl blind along with designated mobility-impaired parking and access is beyond the operating budget of a small mountain park. Potential funding sources may include but are not limited to the following resources: Northwest  Region, Watchable Wildlife, Wetland Wildlife Conservation, Fishing is Fun and the Colorado Chapter of Ducks Unlimited.

Stagecoach State Park considers this an excellent opportunity to maximize the hunting opportunities at the park, reduce potential user conflicts, enhance safety and improve resource sustainability.

Photo via UndercoverColorado.com

Tread Lightly! has awarded a “25 for 25” grant to partially fund this project.  Funding was made possible by our generous partners: Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative, Federal Premium Ammunition, Bushnell and Dallas Safari Club.  

Email grant awardee for more information or to volunteer

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