Quandary: The purpose behind the Colorado wildlife habitat stamp
Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.
I just bought my fishing license and they charged me $10 for a “Colorado wildlife habitat stamp.” What is that and why did I have to buy it?
As a Coloradan, or someone lucky enough to visit, animals are your neighbor, and just like you wouldn’t show up to your neighbor’s barbecue without a six pack or some dip, you shouldn’t go bag a deer without paying it forward. The stamp program is the quid pro quo of the animal kingdom. In Colorado, anyone who purchases a hunting or fishing license is also charged for a wildlife habitat stamp to kind of balance things out. In exchange for all of those beautiful rainbow trouts you’ve been pulling out of Lake Dillon, your $10 is helping to conserve animal habitats for all of those monsters in the deep that eluded your hooks.
The stamp program is the primary funding source of the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Protection Program created by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. It works on conservation and access issues to try and increase the amount of acres you have to play and continue your murderous ways on all animal kind. Seems like a decent trade-off right? Consider this: Since 2006, the program has conserved 234,762 acres of key habitat space, according to CPW, and has created 115,103 acres of new public access — not to mention 32.26 miles of new fishing access. But don’t worry, this isn’t some fishy welfare program, and your money isn’t supporting every little brookie with emotional distress. The program is actually very competitive and only the most needy of animals receive funding — looking at you sage grouse.
In 2016 alone, the habitat protection program received 34 proposals for a total of $41,239,339 in funding. Of those 34 proposals, only six were actually funded, with the program doling out $8,074,009 of its $9.3 million budget. As a result, an additional 17,000 acres of habitat were protected last year. Through the program, CPW offers, “funding opportunities for private landowners who wish to voluntarily protect important wildlife habitat, and/or, provide sustainable wildlife-related recreational access to the public.” Meaning many farmers and ranchers receive funding through this program in exchange for allowing hunters and anglers access through their lands.
If this seems like forced charity to you and you don’t believe you should have to spend your hard-earned bucks keeping a buck in his home, there is a very simple solution: Don’t go hunting or fishing. Maybe take up knitting instead, or some other inside activity. Otherwise, if you are between the ages of 18-64 and you want to get a year-round fishing license — valid April 1 to March 31 annually — or hunting license you need to purchase a stamp. This also includes hunters who are applying for a limited license — you have to purchase a stamp just to get into the drawing. The only exceptions are for people who have a permanent disability or a veteran with a disability, but even those cases do have some restrictions, and you should check CPW.state.co.us to find out all of the limitations.
If you are just visiting this fine state for a couple days, and your cold heart has no space for an endangered bird, you can get a one- or two-day fishing license without needing to purchase a stamp. The state draws the line at three days though, meaning that if you purchase a two-day license this weekend then come back in February and purchase an additional one-day license, you will be charged for a stamp — they track it by Social Security number too, so good luck getting away. If you have any other questions about the program or demand to know what species you will be protecting call CPW at 303-297-1192 or visit HugAHunter.com.
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