By Alan Peterson
San Juan Mountains Association
It is fall again the weather is cooling down, the leaves are changing and hunters are back, hoping that this will be the year to get the big one. Hunting season and off-highway-vehicle (OHV) use often go hand in hand, and so should an awareness of some basic guidelines to help one travel responsibly.
Motorized travel on National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands is limited to a designated system of roads and trails. Check with one of the local San Juan Public Lands offices in Durango, Bayfield, Pagosa Springs or Dolores to educate yourself about current travel regulations as you plan your area to hunt.
As changes occur, designated routes are displayed on a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM), which are free and currently available for the Columbine and Pagosa ranger districts of the San Juan National Forest. A free landscape map currently is available for the Mancos-Cortez area, as well as for the HD Mountain and Lakes areas. Maps also indicate where dispersed camping is permitted.
When using an off-road vehicle, remember to tread lightly by avoiding sensitive areas such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams unless on designated routes. Off-road or cross country travel by motorized vehicles in the San Juan National Forest is not permitted to retrieve game. ATVs that are 50 inches or less in width can extend their travel on designated trails as indicated on the MVUMs.
Firearms must be fully unloaded (in both the magazine and the chamber) and enclosed in a hard or soft case with no open ends when transported on an OHV.
Colorado residents and nonresidents who operate an OHV on public lands must be registered annually with Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife for $25.25. As a customer service, you can register at most Public Land offices in the San Juan. Registrations also are available at Colorado State Park offices and local OHV dealers. Nonresident hunters can purchase their registration permit sticker where they obtain their hunting license.
Respect the rights of other hunters, property owners and all recreational trail users to allow them to enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed. And remember to stay the trail and protect your public lands by driving only on open roads and trails.
For more information, call the Public Lands Office and San Juan Mountains Association at 247-4874 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Peterson is director of visitor services and bookstore operations for San Juan Mountains Association.