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Oct 12, 2013 11:36 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Business owners and officials: 'Colorado is open for hunting season'

Fires, floods and now the government shutdown have caused serious trouble for Colorado's tourism season and hopes are high that hunting season will help make up for lost money.

This summer's disasters made for bad business at Angler's Covey, a fishing shop in Colorado Springs.

"We've just had too many events, it's just too fearful," described owner David Leinweber. "We've had too much negative publicity."

Leinweber said with thousands of fishable streams and lakes across the state, disasters in some areas shouldn't have discouraged people from visiting and enjoying the outdoors. He blames national news coverage with keeping tourists away.

"It affects it a lot, I mean that's where we have to be on top of our game, have a plan and figure out how to combat those type of things," he explained.

With the Black Forest Fire being followed almost immediately by severe flash flooding across El Paso County and the rest of the state the Colorado Springs Visitors Bureau did their best to show people that local attractions were still worth seeing over the summer and into fall. Outdoor recreation brings millions of dollars into the state economy.

"Tourism is such a huge part of our economic engine that you have to keep that engine running to help in recovery efforts," explained Chelsy Murphy, a spokesperson for the visitors bureau.

Hunting season has arrived, a chance to bring another wave of out of state tourists. The disasters, and now the government shutdown, have had negative effects on hunting season as well.

"We're getting calls all the time," explained Brett Axton of Rocky Mountain Roosters. "Because we're the go to people when it comes to being able to answer the phone and tell them what's happening for hunting."

Hunting guides like Axton, as well as Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer, have been fielding many calls from hunters asking whether hunting seasons will be affected or cancelled due to the recent flooding and the government shutdown.

"The state forests, the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), those areas are still open so for the big game seasons that started now they're gonna run fine," Axton described. "I expect to have a really positive, productive season."

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, over 23-million acres of public land in Colorado are not at all affected by the shutdown. Officials stated that only one-half of one-percent of federal land in the state is affected.

"It's unfortunate that hunters are receiving mixed messages from the federal agencies," Steve Yamashita, Acting Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, stated in a press release sent to News 5. "While all of the National Forests in Colorado are open, the shutdown has confused sportsmen across the country and we're trying to make sure people get the right information. Colorado is open this hunting season."

Thankfully, according to Brett Axton, the weather seems to be helping rather than hurting the vital tourism season. Wet weather, he explained, should boost waterfowl hunting while early snow will keep big game moving making for an active season.

Hunting brings in nearly $2-billion to Colorado's economy each fall according to information released by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

 

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