Fri Jul 2nd, 2021
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
Categories: Top Stories
Tags: Access permit, Loan Mesa State Park, Memorandum of understanding, Raymond Baker, Southern Ute Wildlife Division, State lottery process, State of Colorado, Steve Whiteman, Treaty hunting, Tribal member hunters, Ute treaty rights
Tribe, State create MOU honoring Ute treaty rights
The Southern Ute Wildlife Division is pleased to announce that interested tribal member hunters can now access Lone Mesa State Park for treaty hunting using access permits issued by the Tribe. A limited number of permits will be available each year, free of charge, beginning with the 2021 hunting season.
Lone Mesa State Park encompasses close to 12,000 acres, owned by the State of Colorado; which is specially managed just for hunting in the fall. The state is focused on low density, in an effort to provide a quality hunting experience by keeping it open to a very limited number of hunters.
In September of 2019, Southern Ute tribal member Raymond Baker was turned away from the State Park because he didn’t go through the State’s application process for a park access permit.
Baker approached the Tribe’s Wildlife Division soon after, stating that he would like there to be some way for tribal members to hunt Lone Mesa; to exercise Ute treaty rights without going through the state lottery process and drawing for state access permits.
In November of 2019 the Southern Ute Indian Tribe started discussions with the State of Colorado to develop a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Southern Ute tribal members to access and utilize the park.
“The MOU we just entered with the state, it ties into the broader Brunot Area agreement with Colorado,” explained Southern Ute Wildlife Director, Steve Whiteman. “This specifically addresses access to the smaller parcel of land within the treaty area. This is an enhancement that will allow tribal hunters to enter this very restricted hunting area under tribal rules.”
“As of June 15, we now have an agreement in place,” Whiteman said. “Tribal members can come to the Wildlife office and fill out an application to access the park for hunting deer and elk — there are six permits available this year. It is a large state park, entirely encompassed within the treaty area. Tribal members must have the park access permit, in addition to their regular Brunot deer or elk hunting permit, to hunt within park boundaries. It’s a tribal application process — with no fees or charges.”
“I think it may evolve over time. We will need to evaluate the level of tribal interest for hunting there,” Whiteman explained. Management at the park, tribal interest level, plus data on deer and elk populations in the region, will be important considerations with the number of park access permits made available in future years.
“We are getting 5% of the entries into the park — potentially Ute Mountain Ute will also get 5%, as well, but they would need to work towards their own MOU with the state.”
Lone Mesa State Park, located 23 miles north of the Town of Dolores, is managed by Colorado Parks & Wildlife. The State Park is encompassed entirely within the Brunot Treaty Area and features incredibly scenic lands ranging in elevation from about 7,200 feet to just over 9,000 feet. Access to the park is highly restricted and only allowed for big game hunting each year. State hunters are required to apply for park access permits through a limited-draw lottery process.
The access permits will be available either first-come first-serve, or through a Tribe-administered drawing if there is sufficient interest. Applications for Lone Mesa Access Permits must be received at the Wildlife Division during the month of July and no later than Friday, July 30, 2021.
For more information on huntable big game species, season framework, weapon types, etc., please contact the Wildlife Division at (970) 563- 0130.