OutdoorHub Editor: Keenan Crow 11.02.20
As of last week, Colorado firefighters are now officially battling two of the largest wildfires to ever occur in the state since records have been kept.
According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, about 940 square miles have already been torched by wildfires this year, with the Cameron Peak Fire and East Troublesome Fire combining to contribute roughly 585 square miles. However the concern is those fires, along with multiple others continue to burn. On Oct. 31, the Denver Post reported the East Troublesome fire was 37% contained, while the Cameron Peak fire was sitting at 64% containment.
Hunters Affected by the Flames
Given the fact hunters in Colorado have not had to deal with wildfires much in the past, they are certainly adding all kinds of new challenges to their hunting plans this year. Including several road and park closures that many hunters (both in-state and out-of-state) were counting on accessing this fall.
The CPR News reports the state of Colorado has already refunded over $2,800 in hunting license fees as a direct result of the fires.
Hunters holding Colorado tags in game management units impacted by the fires may be able to request a refund and reinstatement of preference points (+1) used to draw the license. Not all licenses are eligible for a refund. Some licenses permit hunters to access multiple units, so Colorado Parks and Wildlife has suggested they consider those units as animals are fleeing the fire zones.
“Colorado has more than 23 million acres of public land and the fires are on a small portion of that land,” explained JT Romatzke, Regional Manager for CPW in northwest Colorado. “We are trying to provide flexibility for hunters while also letting them know that the wildlife is still out there. If a hunter has a license that allows them to hunt in multiple units, those licenses are not currently eligible for this more lenient refund policy.”
Public Land Closures
As you might imagine, these historic wildfires have prompted the unprecedented closure of public lands, including the entire Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest – where nearly 30% of the land has burned this year.
“This is the biggest closure of the Arapaho and Roosevelt that we are aware of, and it is the longest,” said Reid Armstrong, public affairs specialist.
She went on to explain how these recreation areas had been experiencing a severe uptick in traffic recently due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are doing everything we can to not only continue to fight these seven fires that are still burning but also to help with some of the restoration and recovery efforts that come after the fires burn through an area,” Armstrong told CPR. “And that’s on top of one of the busiest recreation seasons we have ever seen. So we cannot afford to have another fire start on this forest.”
For more information, or to see if your hunt code has been approved for the fire refund application, follow this link here.