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Colorado Moves to Keep Wildlife Migration Corridors Open

A Colorado mule deer is blocked by range fencing. A new state program is designed to have state agencies coordinate with federal and local governments and others to keep clear and preserve the state's migration corridors. (AdobeStock)
A Colorado mule deer is blocked by range fencing. A new state program is designed to have state agencies coordinate with federal and local governments and others to keep clear and preserve the state's migration corridors. (AdobeStock)

August 22, 2019

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. – Increased development in Colorado is creating major obstacles to migration corridors for several native animal species, but a new state program aims to keep them open.

Gov. Jared Polis recently issued an executive order to preserve Colorado's historic migration corridors, requiring state agencies to coordinate with federal, state and local governments, private landowners and conservationists to protect wildlife.

Brien Webster, chapter coordinator of Colorado and Wyoming Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, says the state's development can be a threat to numerous animals, including bighorn sheep, mule deer and even trout.

"In Colorado right now, we have subdivisions, roads, trails, energy fields – all sorts of things – that are being developed throughout the Colorado landscape,” he states. “A lot of that development is occurring near or on important wildlife habitat such as migration corridors.”

Members of several sports and recreation organizations met Wednesday in Idaho Springs to show support for the governor's order.

Webster says the executive order balances out the economic interests in the state while preserving family hunting and fishing traditions for future generations.

He says the executive order calls for a long-term effort to direct state agencies to explore scientific mapping, historic information and partnerships that will streamline habitat-protection efforts.

"Healthy wildlife populations depend on healthy, highly functional habitat,” he points out. “And this executive order demonstrates a commitment to ensuring that we'll do what we can now to better understand what quality habitat looks like and how we can better protect it."

Webster says it allows agencies to incorporate planning, public education, and more efficient use of government resources in protecting wildlife.

"These migration corridors take place across the landscape on state lands, on federally managed public lands, on private lands,” he explains. “Mule deer don't care whether it's Forest Service land or state land or private land."

He says hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-related recreation opportunities are a large part of the Colorado economy, generating a $5 billion economic impact on the state.

Disclosure: The Pew Charitable Trusts - Environmental Group contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mark Richardson, Public News Service - CO