Public meeting set to discuss future of John Martin Reservoir wildlife area

PICT 64J1 John Martin Reservoir Dam - CPW
Published Thursday, April 18, 2019

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host a public meeting at 6:00 p.m. Monday, April 22, at the John Martin Reservoir State Park Visitor Center to discuss proposed changes at John Martin Reservoir State Wildlife Area.

CPW manages the 19,471-acre state wildlife area (SWA) for the Corps. The SWA surrounds the reservoir west of the state park. It's a popular destination for hunting, fishing, boating, camping and wildlife viewing.

CPW has been working with the Corps on a new operating agreement at the SWA after its old license expired in 2018. The wildlife area will continue to operate under that agreement until a new one is in place. 

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MAP John Martin State Wildlife Area
Map of John Martin Reservoir and state wildlife area. Courtesy CPW.

As part of the licensing process, the Corps has identified areas where it wants a higher level of protection based on unique wildlife habitats or areas of cultural concern. These "Environmental Sensitive Areas" (ESA) will require CPW to more closely manage public access and impacts. 

In addition, the Corps wants CPW to change its management strategy in areas that receive higher-than-normal public use. 

For example, the south shore is very popular for fishing, camping and other outdoor recreation. Currently, the south shore is managed as a "dispersed camping area" with no facilities. Under new Corps requirements, camping will be restricted to designated areas and CPW will be required to provide some basic facilities such as portable toilets and trash service.

Also, ESAs will be closed to vehicle use to protect those habitats and signs will be posted. Roads will be improved and marked for travel and two designated camping areas will be cleared of vegetation and marked for use. 

"This is a positive step forward to better protect the resources and limit public impacts to a high use recreation area," said Travis Black, CPW's area wildlife manager in Lamar. "We want to let the public know of the proposed changes to the license and assure them we will maintain public access for the intended purposes of hunting, fishing and watchable wildlife."

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