Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) are reminding hunters to do their homework in advance of the 2014-15 hunting season. Due to the September 2013 flood, many areas of the forest in the northeast region of the state will look different than in past seasons and hunters will need to plan and scout to maximize access.
The flood area impacts six Game Management Units in the northeast region: 8, 19, and 20, portions of 29, 38, and 191.
“CPW and the Forest Service are both committed to the safety of recreationists on the forest, including hunters and anglers,” said Steve Yamashita, CPW northeast regional manager. “We ask that everyone expecting to access these areas use due diligence by checking the flood info regularly for updates, checking in with local CPW offices, and if possible, scouting your hunting area before your season begins.”
Initial assessments indicate the September 2013 Flood damaged at least 382 miles of road, 236 miles of trail, 4 bridges and 42 facilities and many natural resources on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland (ARP). The most heavily impacted areas were on approximately 230,000 acres of the Boulder and Canyon Lakes Ranger Districts on the Roosevelt National Forest.
The landscape has changed in many areas. In some locations soil has washed away to bedrock. Multiple roads and trails are severely damaged and in some cases rivers and streams have changed course and now cover the former road or trail locations. Debris flows and debris dams are distributed across the landscape and in rivers and creeks.
“The Forest Service is continuing to assess damage, with the expectation that more damage is possible from spring run-off,” Lori Bell, ARP Flood Recovery Team Lead, said. “We have begun prioritizing repair work, considering health and safety, wildlife habitat and ecosystem health, public service, and how best to leveraging of funds. Despite changes in the Forest landscape, hunting opportunities remain available to those willing to explore.”
The damage will take years to repair, rehabilitate, or stabilize. In some cases infrastructure or facilities may be decommissioned. Navigating areas will be different than pre-flood conditions and in many cases landmarks are unrecognizable. Annual runoff and snowmelt is expected to result in additional damage over the next one to three years.
It is unlikely that all areas, roads and recreation opportunities will be returned to pre-flood conditions. Learn more about the flood and impacts to hunting.