article photo I8l2NOzf8zYaJAeXlZIyX.jpg

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Proposing to Restrict Access at State Wildlife Areas

Posted: 05/24/2023
By: Hattie Johnson

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission will consider public comments submitted by May 24th about a proposed change to regulations on use of state wildlife areas (SWA). The proposed changes would restrict the use of any vessel on state wildlife area property to ones being actively used for hunting or fishing. This would affect river access such as the Granite SWA property that includes access to Pine Creek on the Arkansas. Please provide your comments by signing up and submitting through the online portal at

CPW is proposing to update the provision about vessels that previously only prohibited overnight mooring of boats to, “to launch, or to take out vessels, except those being actively used for fishing and/or hunting”. These wildlife properties are to prioritize wildlife related activities like hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching and allow for other activities as long as they don’t interfere. This proposal puts the importance of consumptive recreation activities above other uses these sites could support. Experiencing rivers and their wildlife from a boat is compatible with the uses of these sites. While some specific properties, such as the Buena Vista SWA and Loma boat launch SWA, have allowed other uses like paddling and dog walking, this blanket proposal to the general provisions is concerning.

You may remember, in 2020, we alerted our followers that CPW was requiring all users of SWAs to have a valid hunting or fishing license to access the properties. After some pushback from us and other members of the human powered recreation community, a work group was formed to find an alternative. The result was a new pass that non-consumptive recreational users could buy to access these lands and contribute to their management. American Whitewater was ultimately hesitant about this new pass due to lack of transparency in use of those new funds as well as assurance that important river access points would remain accessible. This proposed change confirms those concerns. However, it also gives us a chance to once again engage and share about the specific sites that would impact whitewater runs.

During the development of the SWA pass, American Whitewater asked for a site specific look at properties to better determine what sort of restriction on use was appropriate. We are pleased to report that was done and this process also includes a proposal of site specific provisions. The following list includes SWAs with river access to reaches identified in our National Whitewater Inventory that do not include a site specific exclusion of the new general provision restricting boat access: 

Please send in your comments today!


American Whitewater

Hattie Johnson

Phone: 970-456-8533
Full Profile
Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!