Seeking Public Input
The San Luis Valley Field Office (SLVFO) has complete our Field Office-level Special Recreation Permit (SRP) policy, which tiers to both BLM state and national SRP direction. Perhaps the most significant proposed change to the unit’s SRP process pertains to commercial big game and mountain lion hunting outfitters.
The Proposed Action is to change administration and issuance of SRP’s for commercial big game and mountain lion hunting outfitters based on Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) hunting rules and regulations, Game Management Units (GMU’s), and seasons of use on all lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management SLVFO. Under the proposed action, changes to commercial big game and mountain lion hunting outfitter permits include:
1. Allowing permittees to operate within GMU(s) that contain BLM lands in the San Luis Valley, which include: 68, 681, 682, 79, 80, 81, 82, and 83 (there are no BLM lands in GMU 791). For example, a permittee would be allowed to operate anywhere on BLM-managed lands in GMU 68. To be clear, this proposed change in use only pertains to BLM lands within a GMU and does not imply or authorize in any way permitted use on any other land ownership than BLM.
2. Allowing permittees to operate to the fullest extent of the state-managed hunting season(s) they’re permitted for. The number of available hunting licenses (by season and type) would serve as the limiting factor for when and how long an outfitter is authorized to operate, combined with the capabilities of the outfitters’ business (i.e. number of clients the business can support during each hunting season while maintaining a 1:2 guide-to-client ratio).
3. Determining capacity based on whether or not SRP program management objectives are being met and not by the number of permits issued, or number of outfitters, or any other numerical criteria. One program goal is to ensure that appropriate amounts and types of outfitters, operating in a diversity of locations and providing an array of services, can adequately meet the needs of the public who desire those services. No additional permitted outfitters are needed if BLM is comfortable that those desired conditions are being met in the GMU. On the other hand, if those desired conditions were not being met, then BLM could consider new proposals for permitted use in the GMU.
BLM Discretion with Recreation Permits
In all levels of planning and management, BLM has tremendous latitude in how it chooses to exercise the Special Recreation Permit program. In addition to the policy quoted below, BLM issues an “Annual Operating Authorization” to permittees that can define unique requirements or restrictions of any type for each operating season.
“SRPs are issued at the discretion of the authorized officer who may, at any time and without prior notice, choose not to issue permits for certain activities or use areas. Such decisions could be based on a variety of factors such as planning decisions, potential resource impacts, existing outfitters in the same area, overcrowding, past poor performances, climatic conditions and others.”