Greenback Cutthroat trout on display at Bear Creek Nature Center, and new state park fees coming in 2019 

click to enlarge Greenback Cutthroat trout in Bear Creek Nature Center's display - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Greenback Cutthroat trout in Bear Creek Nature Center's display
El Paso County's Bear Creek Nature Center is now the only place where the public can view the endangered Greenback Cutthroat Trout in captivity for free. Last week, biologists from Colorado Parks and Wildlife transported 14 of the protected fish from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatchery in Leadville to Colorado Springs, where they were transferred to a display in the main lobby of the nature center.

The display, part of a remodeling project at the nature center, is a custom 300-gallon tank that will be maintained by a private company under contract with the county. According to CPW Senior Aquatic Biologist Josh Nehring, the specific fish on display are the progeny of specimens originally harvested from Bear Creek, which flows just a hundred feet or so away from the new display. Although not native to Bear Creek, it is the only place where the true, genetically pure, species is known to exist. The trout on display have been used to breed other genetically pure trout, and have aged to the point where they can no longer be bred, making them perfect for a public display. The nature center is open 9-4, Tuesday through Saturday and is free to the public.

Following with the passage earlier this year of the Future Generations Act, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission last week moved to enact increases in hunting and fishing licenses, and park entry and camping fees. Effective January 1, a daily parks pass will go from $7 to $8, and a yearly vehicle park pass will go from $70 to $80. An Aspen Leaf (senior citizen) pass will increase to $70. Parks and Wildlife will also be introducing a "hang tag" yearly pass that can moved from vehicle to vehicle (the pass owner must be in the vehicle), for $120. 

For campers, the $10 fee for reserving an individual campsite has been eliminated, but camping permits will increase between $8 and $13 depending on the type of campsite, and permits for cabins and yurts will increase $10. Individual park managers have also been given the ability to discount camping fees, but the earliest any discounts could be enacted is 2020.

Various hunting and fishing licenses will also increase for Colorado residents, who haven't seen an increase since the early 2000's. Out-of-state hunters and anglers, who have seen increases, will not see any increases in 2019.

As a state enterprise, CPW receives zero tax money and relies solely on fees, licenses, grants and state lottery funds to operate. The ability to increase rates given the commission in the Future Generations Act are capped over the life of the act. CPW must report on the effect the increases has on achieving goals set to be met by 2025 to the state legislature each year. The Act was crafted after years-long public meetings from around the state between CPW officials and hunting and fishing organizations, businesses, and individuals, along with park users. For more detailed information see this site.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.


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