Anglers take a lickin' on Habitat Stamp

Funny thing about Colorado's Habitat Stamp. Most folks I talk to think it's a swell idea to tack $10 onto the price we pay to fish and hunt and that the stamp should be reauthorized either in this session of the legislature or in the next.

But all this enthusiasm comes with a strange caveat. Hardly anyone likes what happened during the first three years of this fundraising project.

In an effort aimed both at reform and in keeping the stamp alive, an advisory group has arrived at a number of proposals to be codified into a bill that might be introduced in a couple of weeks. Otherwise, the stamp faces a do-or-die legislative firing squad during the 2010 session.

Among other changes up for discussion:

• The stamp would involve a one-time $10 cost, no matter how many licenses are involved.

• A stamp would be required to apply for big-game preference points, a measure to prevent abuse by non-resident hunters.

• A stamp would be required of those who purchase search-and-rescue cards.

• DOW could use stamp funds for maintenance and operation of these newly acquired properties.

• Finally, and foremost, public access would be considered a key element in any property selection.

This last element is of particular interest to an angling community that has paid for more than it has received.

"Our organization isn't looking for special treatment, but we don't want anglers to be put in a disadvantageous position," said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited.