Rod & Gun News from Leadville Today
Ice Fishing & Target Shooting
The lingering effects of COVID-19 are slowly creeping into the New Year as outdoors news impacts the rod and gun community. The annual Ice Fishing Derby at Twin Lakes has been canceled for 2021. According to organizers with the Leadville Rod and Gun Club, it was public health restrictions that ultimately tipped the decision scale for the group.
“After long and stressful consideration we have decided to cancel the derby this year. We have been out on the ice the last couple of weeks seeing how we could make it work. We could definitely do the social distancing on the lake. But to get the fish properly weighed in we wouldn’t be able to social distance. At this time we don’t have the ability to have a virtual ceremony on Sunday. We are definitely heartbroken over our decision.” – Leadville Rod and Gun Club Facebook Page.
It would have been year #23 for the event that brings hundreds of ice fishing enthusiasts into southern Lake County from all around the state and across the region every February. While the derby did have a gap year in 2016 as the event transitioned to new organizers, it came back with a vengeance in 2017 and has grown in popularity each year since with over 300 competitors in 2019.
“That really sucks,” posted Andy Wald after reading the announcement on social media. Wald is General Manager for the Twin Lakes Inn and a big proponent of the annual winter event both personally and professionally. “I thought that could be a safe event.”
While others echoed similar sentiments, in the end, organizers had to weigh the cost-benefit when it comes to a variety of issues. As the longest continuous ice fishing tournament in the state, the derby begins early Saturday and runs through noon on Sunday. Planning for the event can be time-consuming for the all-volunteer team under the best of circumstances. The added restrictions and monitoring that would be necessary under the Lake County Public Health Department’s guidelines were determined to be enough of a deterrent to cancel the 2021 event. Organizers hope to have a big comeback in 2022.
Of course, the area and Twin Lakes are open to the public. In fact, during a recent trip to the saloon at the Twin Lakes Inn, Wald reported that the Inn has had an okay time of it, working their way through the pandemic challenges, especially for the dining and lodging industry.
“We’re doing okay, all things considered,” he said, explaining that their restaurant delivery service has been strong. Additionally, more and more people are becoming aware of their pantry items, a big convenience in the remote village of Twin Lakes that sits at the end of the line on Highway 82. This time of year Independence Pass is closed for the winter season, not to re-open until Memorial Day Weekend and supplies can be scarce.
However, the Twin Lakes Inn and Saloon is the only business in the Village that remains open during the winter months. And with COVID-19 public health restrictions still in place, Wald and his crew have re-modeled their set-up to meet the limited in-person options and expand their pick-up and delivery services in the area. Wald concluded that the increase in the number of short-term vacation rentals in the areas has definitely helped them navigate the Coronavirus challenges.
There have already been a robust number of ice fishing shacks spotted on Twin Lakes as the ice set up. Be sure to stop into the Twin Lakes Inn – located in the heart of the village – if you’re in the area for skiing, snowmobiling and yes, even ice fishing – it just won’t be for the derby this year!
The Animals Are On The Move
If You Shoot A Gun In the Forest . . .
For the people who manage the massive aces of US Forest Service land encompassing Lake County, the issue of visitors shooting off firearms during their camping and hiking outings has become an issue, especially after last summer. The urban masses looking for opportunities to get outside while practicing social distancing were encouraged by nearly every top state official to head to the hills. However, recent reports indicate that the crowds led to irresponsible target shooting creating major safety and resource concerns.
“Unfortunately, the number of forest visitors who shoot in an unsafe manner has increased,” said Diana Trujillo, forest and grassland supervisor. As a result, the Pike and San Isabel National Forests Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands Forest and Grassland Supervisor released the Integrated Management of Target Shooting on the Pike National Forest project for public comment beginning January 6, 2021. You have 45 days to make your voice heard.
The project addresses the need to provide opportunities for target shooting on National Forest System lands, to identify areas unsuitable for dispersed target shooting, to identify locations to be developed as shooting ranges, and to establish a conditions-based adaptive management framework to manage target shooting in the future. Dispersed target shooting — where forest visitors set up targets and practice shooting in an undesignated, undeveloped location — is a legal use of National Forest System lands increasing in popularity over the past decade.
“This activity is resulting in increasing levels of resource damage, trash generation, shooting-related wildfires, and negatively impacting the safety and recreational experience of other Forest users and neighbors,” added Trujillo.
While the initial project will include The Pikes Peak, South Platte, and South Park Ranger Districts specifically, the Leadville District is included in the region and could see the future planning of the same nature. The PSICC is part of the Southern Shooting Partnership, a group of 11 federal and state agencies, county governments, and utility providers working to address issues related to recreational sport shooting on public lands. This project builds on recent activities of the partnership and is supported by a grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. In 2019, the partnership surveyed public land users and recreational shooters, and held public listening sessions in four counties. The Integrated Management of Target Shooting proposed project incorporates public input gathered through these partnership activities.
This announcement opens a 45-day public comment period for the Integrated Management of Target Shooting project. The detailed proposed action and associated maps, as well as instructions for submitting comments, are available on the project website. Comments are due no later than February 22, 2021.
All Pike and San Isabel National Forests Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands offices are conducting business by providing virtual services. For information specific to the project, please contact Jennifer DeWoody, NEPA Planner, Pike National Forest, at 719-477-4216 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leadville Public Shooting Range
The Lake County Public Shooting Range is located in Leadville, Colorado. This 15-acre range is free and accessible to all. has a The range has a shotgun/plinking area and vault toilet, offering the following ranges: 100 yd., 200 yd. range; 10/25/50 yd. ranges. MORE INFO HERE.
Statewide Caucus Held Jan. 19
In other outdoor news, sportspersons from across Colorado are invited to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Southeast Region Sportspersons Caucus for updates on a variety of issues important to hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.
The caucus is scheduled 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, and will be streamed live, online via CPW’s statewide Facebook page. It will feature statewide roundtable representatives and Region Manager Brett Ackerman, who will provide updates on CPW efforts to expand access to public lands, to protect State Wildlife Areas and objectives for the coming year.
Other topics on the agenda include issues related to trapping, updates on terrestrial and aquatic biology issues including the greenback cutthroat trout status in Bear Creek, changes to oil and gas rules and how they may impact sportspeople and questions around wolf reintroduction.
It’s a great chance for hunters, anglers, trappers and outdoor enthusiasts to engage with Larry McCormack and Ron Goodrich, the Southeast Region’s delegates to CPW’s statewide Sportspersons’ Roundtable. McCormack and Goodrich represent the position of the SE Region on important policy decisions and issues. Caucus attendees will also be able to engage with Ackerman.
“The Southeast Region Caucus gives all Colorado residents an opportunity to have an active voice in how CPW manages wildlife,” Ackerman said. “It allows all our outdoors enthusiasts to participate in statewide debates on CPW policies, regulations and resource management decisions.
“If you love Colorado’s outdoors and wildlife, then you should attend our free caucus and join in our wide-ranging discussions with sportsmen and sportswomen. We want to hear your ideas. We value your input and hope you will come and help us protect your natural resources.”
- Who: CPW Southeast Region Sportspersons Caucus
- What: Online meeting
- When: 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19
- Where: Online broadcast on CPW’s Facebook page.
- Info: Call 719-227-5200 for additional information or visit http://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/Roundtable.aspx
How CPW Stocks the High Mountain Lakes
What’s In A Name
If you’re interested in keeping track of the recently established Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board (Board), then take note of their next meeting on Friday, Jan. 8. The Board was established by Governor Jared Polis to evaluate proposals concerning name changes, new names, and name controversies of geographic features and certain public places in the State of Colorado and then make official recommendations to the Governor. It was established under the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
The January afternoon meeting will continue the orientation of the board, including final consideration of by-laws and processes.
- WHO: Members of the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board
- WHAT: January meeting of the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board
- WHEN: Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, 1 – 3 p.m.
- WHERE: Find zoom contact info at: https://dnr.colorado.gov/initiatives/colorado-geographic-naming-advisory-board