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Fees Go Up Tuesday for State Parks, Marking First Increase Since 2010

January 1, 2019
Chad Varra, of Erie, carries a pair of poles to new holes while ice fishing at St. Vrain State Park in January 2016.

New year, new fees.

Starting Tuesday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will increase entrance and licensing fees for all 41 state parks — including Eldorado Canyon and St. Vrain State Parks in Boulder County — for the first time since 2010.

Daily passes will increase by $1, annual passes will increase by $10 and camping permits will increase by $8 to $10 depending on the site. Increases for both resident and out-of-state hunting licenses vary greatly, but a complete list can be found on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website ( bit.ly/2GODGIe).

As part of the “Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act,” which the state Legislature approved in April, the additional revenue is earmarked for improving access, developing more robust wildlife populations and keeping pace with a growing list of maintenance projects.

“The additional fees will serve to enhance all aspects of the visitor experience in Colorado’s 41 state parks,” said Margaret Taylor, assistant director of capital, parks and trails for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We are committed to providing a fun, safe and rewarding experience for every visitor. Through funding larger capital projects to smaller on-the-ground programs, these dollars help us better serve both the public and our resources.”

With nearly $20 million expected to be raised in the first year, the act stipulates money will be used for Parks and Wildlife to recruit additional employees to manage wildlife, park, recreational and aquatic resources; renew existing high-priority leases that provide public access for hunters, anglers and outdoor recreationists; increase and improve the state’s big game populations through investments in habitat and conservation, including increased highway wildlife crossings and plans for a new state park; raise the number of fish stocked in Colorado waters to more than 90 million through the development of a statewide hatchery modernization plan; and reduce the need to list additional state trust species under the federal “Endangered Species Act of 1973 ” by partnering with private landowners.

The largest chunk on the funding, however, will go toward halving the $44.76 million maintenance and repair backlog for high risk dams as well as the $26 million backlog of large capital construction and maintenance projects by 2025.

In Boulder County, projects include a trail connection under Interstate 25 to the Firestone Trail in St. Vrain State Park and a riverbank stabilization project that likely will be built this year. Longer-term projects include constructing a visitors’ center and making campground improvements at St. Vrain State Park.

With the investments, Parks and Wildlife, along with the Legislature, hope to grow Colorado’s outdoor industry while continuing to maintain state open spaces to the levels its residents have come to expect, according to the Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act.

“Outdoor recreation significantly impacts Colorado’s economy, including annual economic benefits of $919 million from hunting, $1.9 billion from fishing, $2.3 billion from wildlife viewing, and $1 billion from state park visitors,” the act reads.

The act further states that goals and objectives outlined to be achieved by 2025 can “only be accomplished through increased funding from user fees.”

John Spina: 303-473-1389, jspina@times-call.com or twitter.com/jsspina24

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