Commonly Asked Questions About Recreation Leases on Trust Land in Colorado

November 2019

WHAT IS THE PUBLIC ACCESS PROGRAM?

The Public Access Program is a lease the Colorado State Land Board holds with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) that allows seasonal public access to state trust land for hunting and fishing, often on lands also leased for agriculture. The Public Access Program has existed since 1993.

IS CPW’S PUBLIC ACCESS PROGRAM EXPANDING?

Yes, the State Land Board is currently in the process of expanding the Public Access Program lease with CPW. Both agencies have agreed to add up to 500,000 acres to this lease, primarily in eastern Colorado, within the next five years. 480,000 acres of trust land were enrolled in the program prior to this expansion.

We added 80,000 acres to the program just in time for the fall 2019 hunting season. The acreage added is in Lincoln, Kiowa, Bent, and Logan Counties. We developed ‘Access Agreements’ with the agriculture lessee on each property.

CPW has submitted to us a list of additional properties (approximately 380,000 acres) that they would like to enroll in the Public Access Program in upcoming years. We are currently reviewing their list.

Per our agreement with CPW, once a property has been nominated for the Public Access Program, the State Land Board will not accept applications for private recreation leases on these properties. This ‘hold’ on private recreational leases remains in place until a determination of suitability is finalized with CPW.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY LEASED PROPERTY IS ALREADY ENROLLED IN CPW’S PUBLIC ACCESS PROGRAM?

The online Colorado Hunting Atlas (cpw.state.co.us/huntingatlas) identifies all trust land properties currently enrolled in the CPW Public Access Program.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY LEASED PROPERTY HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR CPW’S PUBLIC ACCESS PROGRAM?

The State Land Board is taking the following steps to announce trust land properties that have been nominated for the Public Access Program:

The final decision to enroll a nominated property in the Public Access Program will be made by the State Land Board.

HOW ARE PROPERTIES NOMINATED INTO CPW’S PUBLIC ACCESS PROGRAM?

CPW and State Land Board staff nominate properties for enrollment into the Public Access Program based on a number of criteria, including location, wildlife habitat, access to public roads and services, impacts to existing leases, land stewardship, and more.

 

WHAT KIND OF RECREATION LEASES ARE AVAILABLE ON STATE TRUST LAND?

 

WHAT IS THE PRIVATE RECREATION APPLICATION PROCESS?

 

The process is posted on our website. Anyone may apply for a recreation lease on any property that is not already leased for recreation. We review all lease applications and have a public leasing process that culminates with a vote by our Commissioners.

 

HOW MANY TRUST LAND ACRES ARE IN COLORADO?

The state of Colorado spans 66.6 million acres. 2.8 million acres of land in Colorado is trust land. The federal government owns 23.9 million acres of land in Colorado, and typically federal land is publicly accessible.

CAN THE PUBLIC ACCESS TRUST LAND?

 

The simple answer is no. Unless a trust land property is leased for public recreation, it is closed to public access. Trespassers are subject to fines. Roughly one million of the 2.8 million acres of trust land in Colorado are leased for recreation.

WHAT IF I AM CONCERNED ABOUT UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES ON A PUBLIC ACCESS PROGRAM PROPERTY?

You should contact local law enforcement when you witness unlawful activity.

Also, CPW requests that you contact your local CPW Area Wildlife Office (cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/ContactUs) if you are concerned about PAP hunters' activities or notice unlawful activity.

The State Land Board may revoke a property from CPW’S Public Access Program if CPW is unsuccessful in managing public access.

WHY ISN’T ALL TRUST LAND IN COLORADO AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC USE?

Trust land in Colorado is not available for public use because the land is part of a trust that was created at statehood solely to earn money for Colorado public schools. Leases on trust land have earned $1.7 billion for Colorado public schools since 2008.  

WHY ARE TRUST LAND PROPERTIES LEASED FOR MULTIPLES USES?

The Colorado State Land Board is constitutionally mandated to steward trust lands to earn money for Colorado schools. To accomplish this goal, trust lands can be leased for multiple purposes in order to earn more revenue for Colorado schools. Ninety-eight percent of trust land is leased for agriculture, and about one-third is leased for recreation.

WHO CAN I CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION?

                Brad Henley, Southeast Deputy Regional Manager, CPW

                719-227-5266 * brad.henley@state.co.us      

                

Abe Medina, Recreation Program Manager, Colorado State Land Board

(303) 866-3454 * Abraham.Medina@state.co.us

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