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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado State Parks: Barr Lake

 

If you’re looking for a quick getaway near the Denver metro area, check out Barr Lake State Park, located near Brighton. The park includes boating, fishing, a nature trail and Nature Center, and wildlife viewing stations. And while boating and fishing aren’t in season right now, there are lots of other things to do at Barr Lake during the winter. Guided nature walks and a lighted holiday trail, a holiday open house, and archery classes are some of the park’s upcoming events. There is also plenty of wildlife viewing in the colder months. Several bald eagles winter in the park, and 350 other bird species have been spotted in the park throughout the year, as well.

150 years ago, what is now Barr Lake State Park was home to buffalo, elk, and pronghorn, which attracted Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. Later, the area was used for cattle grazing. The railroad came to the area in 1883 and in 1908 a dam was constructed to combine two smaller reservoirs into what is now Barr Lake, supplying water to nearby sugar beet farmers. Barr Lake State Park opened to the public in 1977.

Visit the park’s website for more details on activities, trails, and wildlife. Also, click here to learn about bald eagles at Barr Lake. You can also watch a video of the eagles.

Barr Lake
Barr Lake’s wildlife viewing gazebo decorated for the holidays.

 

Photos courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife

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Colorado State Publications Blog

2018 is Year of the Bird

All this year, conservation and wildlife organizations across the US have been celebrating Year of the Bird, a campaign to bring awareness to the importance of birds and to celebrate the centennial of the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Here in our state, Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) is participating in Year of the Bird by highlighting bird species in their popular Colorado Outdoors magazine. Each 2018 issue features articles on Colorado birds and what CPW is doing to research and protect them. For instance, in the September/October issue, you can read about how CPW is working to protect burrowing owls, which live in prairie dog colonies. As prairie dog towns are being eradicated, so too are the burrowing owls. Both species are integral parts of the grassland ecosystem.

This year is also the 80th anniversary of Colorado Outdoors. Founded in 1938, the magazine was originally titled Colorado Conservation Comments. It became known as Colorado Outdoors in 1956. Back issues of the magazine are available for checkout from our library.

For additional resources on Colorado birds, see the CPW website and search our library’s online catalog.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

The “Maverick” of Carpenter Ranch

Farrington “Ferry” Carpenter was a Harvard- and Princeton- educated rancher whose autobiography, Confessions of a Maverick, is one of the most frequently checked out items in our library collection. Today, his Routt County ranch, still a working cattle operation, has been preserved as a nature center.

Originally from Evanston, Illinois, Carpenter (1886-1980) spent time in New Mexico as a teenager, developing a lifelong love of the West. During his college years, he would spend summers in Colorado, where he began purchasing cattle. After obtaining his law degree at Harvard, he moved to Colorado full-time and became the town of Hayden’s first lawyer. He was most devoted to his cattle ranch, however. “He became one of the best informed men in the country on land and grazing laws,” according to his obituary. He served as the first director of the U.S. Grazing Service and was one of the primary authors of the Taylor Grazing Act. He also served in the State Legislature, as District Attorney for the Fourteenth Judicial District, and as the state’s first Director of Revenue.

Today, the Carpenter Ranch near Hayden, Colorado, is overseen by the Nature Conservancy as a research and education center focused on nature, agriculture, and conservation. Visitors to the ranch can explore the original house and barn. The site is also known as a hot spot for birdwatchers, and guided birdwatching hikes are available.

Carpenter told the story of his exciting life in Confessions of a Maverick, published by the Colorado Historical Society in 1984. You can check out a copy from our library or through Prospector. Also see the article Butting Heads: Farrington Carpenter’s Dramatic Role in the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934,” which appeared in the May/June 2010 issue of Colorado Heritage and is also available for checkout from our library.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado State Parks: Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA), located just outside of Salida, is a popular spot for kayaking and whitewater rafting. In fact, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife, the Arkansas River is the “most commercially rafted river in the United States.” The park also offers camping, fishing, hiking, biking, and wildlife watching and features event space, equestrian stables, picnic areas, and a visitor’s center.

With boating being the park’s most popular activity, the park website features many resources including river safety and flow information, current water temps and daily averages, and a river outfitter’s page. Also, be sure to view the park’s River Safety and Etiquette brochure.

AHRA was established in 1989. In 2001 a park management plan was published for AHRA. A revision of this plan is currently underway, which you can learn more about on the AHRA website. The park also publishes an annual report; issues back to 2000 are available from our library.

Additional resources available on the AHRA website include a bird species list; fly fishing etiquette; a bus drivers’ guide; water needs assessment; videos; and volunteer information.

For more about the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area and to plan your trip, see the park’s official map and brochure.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Where to Go to See Fall Colors

“Leaf peeping season” has arrived. Where are the best places to go to view Colorado’s colorful aspens?

For suggestions on Colorado’s most colorful state parks, visit Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s Fall Colors page. Here you can find suggestions not only for where to go, but how – whether you prefer a car trip, camping, hiking, biking, horseback, or a fall-themed outdoor event. Or view their publication Rush to the Gold: 8 Recommended Fall Trips in Colorado State Parks. Find the State Park nearest you with CPW’s Park Finder map. And don’t forget, you can check out a parks pass from your library.

Colorado scenic byways are another great way to view fall colors. The byways program highlights some of the most scenic drives in our state. See the Colorado Tourism Office’s list of 5 Color-Drenched Colorado Scenic Byways. If you still need more ideas, check out these additional articles from the Colorado Tourism Office for suggestions:

Whens the best time to go leaf peeping? See the Colorado State Forest Service’s Planning Your Fall Foliage Experience website for viewing tips and how to pick the peak week to go.  


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Colorado State Publications Blog

Backcountry Survival

Hiking, camping, hunting and fishing, and snow sports are some of Coloradans’ favorite recreational pastimes.  Sometimes, however, unforeseen situations can lead you off the beaten path.  Every outdoors enthusiast should familiarize themselves with basic survival skills in case of emergency.  Even the most experienced mountaineers can become lost in a blinding snowstorm, or become separated from a group.  A great way to prepare yourself is by viewing the Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s survival videos.  Divided into 10 chapters, these videos teach you how to pack a survival kit; how to read maps and compasses; keeping yourself hydrated; starting a fire; signaling for rescue; suggestions for clothing and shelter; and even psychological tactics for controlling panic.

The webpage also includes links to read about situations such as hypothermia, and how to forage for food.  These articles are taken from the classic publication The Art of Survival by “Papa Bear” Whitmore.  You can access Papa Bear’s original 1991 publication online from our library.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)

Colorado Parks and Wildlife issues a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) every five years.  The current plan, issued in 2014, covers Colorado recreation planning, funding, and grants for 2014-2018.  According to the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website,

Every five years, each state updates their SCORP plan to remain eligible for stateside LWCF dollars, which are administered by the National Park Service (NPS). The Colorado State Trails Program, within Colorado Parks and Wildlife, is charged with distributing these grants to projects that align with SCORP priorities, particularly local and regional trail projects.

In our library you can view previous Colorado SCORPs back to the 1960s, as well as other Colorado recreation plans such as the Colorado State Parks Five-Year Strategic Plan, 2005-2009The 2003 and 2008 SCORPs are available online; the others can be checked out from our library.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Sights and Sounds of Autumn

It’s officially fall, which can be a great time to head outdoors.  It’s still warm enough to hike, and in the high country the fall colors are on brilliant display.  Wildlife are also making their preparations for winter.

Sights and Sounds of Autumn is a publication from the Colorado Division of Wildlife that explores characteristics of animal behavior in this season, from bugling elk to migrating birds, spawning trout to mating mooseColorado Parks & Wildlife has a list of places to go to see migrating birds.  Other wildlife species are storing food and preparing their bodies to stay warm over the long winter.  Another Division of Wildlife publication, Bears, takes a look at how these large mammals increase their search for food and can be a potential hazard to humans. 

Heading up to the mountains to see the fall colors has always been popular in Colorado.  Many of the places nearest the metro area get quite crowded, so if you’re looking for somewhere new to go, state agencies have issued several guides that can help.  Rush to the Gold is a publication that highlights fall color viewing in the State Parks.  Discover Colorado:  Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways and the Colorado Department of Transportation’s byways website provide ideas for driving tours of the fall colors.  The Colorado Tourism Office also has a list of suggested sites on their website, as does Colorado Parks and Wildlife You can also search our library’s online catalog for maps and trails guides.  Colorado’s aspen forests are not only adapting to the season change, but are adapting to climate change as well.  What’s Happening to Colorado’s Aspen Forests?, a publication from the Colorado State Forest Service, explores this issue.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Check Out Colorado State Parks

This summer the Colorado State Library and Colorado Parks & Wildlife have teamed up to offer Check Out Colorado State ParksUnder this program, Colorado libraries offer — for checkout just like a book — backpacks containing a parks pass vehicle hangtag, a set of binoculars, various guidebooks, and other cool stuff.  It’s a great way to visit our 42 state parks for free, and learn about Colorado libraries, too. You can also check out the guidebooks individually from the State Publications Library.  With the arrival of fall colors, now is a great time to go Check Out Colorado!

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Colorado State Publications Blog

State Parks NatureFinder App

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has a new app called NatureFinder, which you can download to your smartphone or tablet and take with you as you explore State Parks.  The app shows you where you can find and view plants and wildlife in the park, or you can use it to record locations of wildlife, plant species, or animal tracks you see.  The app helps both visitors and park staff track and learn about the biodiversity of each State Park.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Wildflower Hikes

Wildflower season has arrived in Colorado’s high country, and with this year’s added moisture, you can expect a good show.  The Colorado Tourism Office has put together a list of suggested wildflower hikes, from the metro area to the Western Slope.  Many Colorado State Parks also offer great places to view wildflowers, particularly those in the central mountains and the San Juans.  A number of parks are within easy access from I-70.

Hiking through wildflowers near Crested Butte.  Photo courtesy Colorado Tourism Office.

If you are interested in learning about the wildflowers you see on your hike, our library has many resources that can help you identify and understand these beauties.  Check out the two companion volumes Colorado Flora:  Western Slope and Colorado Flora:  Eastern Slope, published by University Press of Colorado.  We also have a number of other resources including information from the Colorado State University Extension, so be sure to search our web catalog for resources, including both print and digital.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Where to Take a Kid Fishing

School’s out, and the weather is finally warming up.  Time to go fishing!  Fishing can be enjoyed by people of all ages and is a great way to introduce city kids to the outdoors.  On their website Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers a map app, 101(+) Places to Take a Kid Fishing.  This fun, animated map includes fishing spots in every corner of the state, from the mountains to the metro area and even on the Eastern plains.  Click on a splashing fish to get information about the location, including a description of the area, fish species, scheduled events such as fishing clinics, and directions for finding the spot.

Other resources from CPW can also help families – and anyone else – decide on where to go fish. See the annual Colorado Fishing brochure for seasonal information.  Also check out the Colorado Fishing Atlas and Fishing Close to Home (available for checkout from our library).

Note:  Kids under 16 don’t require fishing licenses, but adult anglers will need one in order to fish.  Visit CPW’s website for fishing license information, season dates, and fees.  The first full weekend in June each year (this year — June 6 and 7) is Free Fishing Weekend, the only time each year when anyone can fish without a license.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

New App from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has just released a new app for Apple and Android.  The app presents avalanche danger levels by area and by elevation.  As Colorado experiences a dangerous avalanche season, this information is essential for skiers and others visiting the backcountry during the winter months.  To download the app, click here for Apple and here for Android.

Sample screens from the new app.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Camping in Colorado

If you enjoy camping, our state offers some terrific options from the mountains to the plains.  Right now is an especially good time to head up to the mountains, as the wildflowers are in bloom.  The Colorado Tourism Office has recently put together a list of “10 Amazing Colorado Campsites.”  Colorado Parks and Wildlife also has a helpful Camping website.  Here you can find out about camping in State Parks and reserve your campsite online. 

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Fishing Guides

Planning on doing some fishing this summer?  If so, Colorado State University just made it easier to identify the fish you catch.  They have created the eField Guide to Western Fishes — Colorado and Wyoming.  You can use the e-field guide on your phone or tablet as they are caught, or search on your computer to find out various fish facts, such as the difference between spiny rayed fish or soft rayed fish.  In addition to color photos of all fish species, the guide includes a glossary, checklist, family groupings, and more.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks & Wildlife) has also published numerous fishing guidebooks and other resources for anglers of all skill levels.  Their annual Fishing Guide, a supplement to Colorado Outdoors Magazine, has just been released — check out a copy from our library.  Other helpful resources available for checkout include: 

The Arkansas Darter, a Colorado fish.  Photo by John Woodling, courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

State Wildlife Areas

Wherever you are in Colorado, there is a State Wildlife Area (SWA) near you.  Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s website offers a handy map of all SWAs in Colorado.  Each dot on the map shows the location of one SWA; just click on the dot, and you will get information on that specific SWA, including individual SWA maps, county, elevation, driving directions, hunting and fishing information, recreation, facilities, and restrictions.  You can also create customized maps, such as a map of all SWAs with a particular recreational activity, or map by county.  Plan your next outdoor experience by visiting this helpful resource.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Ice Safety Tips

This week’s snow and below-freezing weather can make the outdoors treacherous, whether for driving, walking, or during recreation.  The Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife has published some handy ice safety tips, copied below.  (Click for their full press release.)
 

“Never go onto the ice alone. Having someone with you means your partner can call or send for help if you fall in.

Remember Reach-Throw-Go. If you are with someone who falls through the ice use this approach. If you can’t reach the person from shore, throw them a floatation device or rope. If you still can’t help the person quickly – go for help. Never attempt to walk out onto the ice to rescue your friend because you might also fall through the ice.

Avoid alcoholic beverages. Alcohol increases your chance for hypothermia, which is the loss of body temperature. It can also lower your inhibitions, increasing the likelihood that you might take risks you otherwise wouldn’t take.

Always wear a life jacket. Wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) over winter clothing. Life jackets can provide excellent flotation and protection from hypothermia.

Assemble a personal safety kit. Always wear a safety kit on your body when going out onto the ice. Safety kits should include an ice pick, rope and a whistle to call for help.

Always keep your pets on a leash. Never allow your dog to run out onto the ice and never walk your dog near a frozen lake or pond without a leash. If your dog falls through the ice, do not attempt a rescue. Go for help. If the ice couldn’t support the weight of your animal, it can’t support you.

Even with the best planning and preparation, accidents can happen. If you do fall through the ice, remember the following:

Don’t panic. Try to remain calm to conserve as much energy as possible. Try to get your arms onto the ice and kick as hard as you can with your feet to help lift you onto the ice, and then roll to safety. If you can’t get out of the cold water by yourself, take the following appropriate actions to extend your survival time while waiting to be rescued.

Do not swim. Swimming will cause your body to lose heat much faster than if you stay as still as possible.

Act slowly and deliberately to conserve heat. Expect a progressive decrease in your strength and ability to move. Make the harder maneuvers at the beginning, while you can.

Keep your upper body above water. Keep your head and upper body as far out of the water as reasonably possible to conserve heat.

There’s lots of outdoor fun to enjoy in Colorado but please do so carefully. No one can guarantee you that the ice is safe. The decision to go onto the ice is personal and should be made only after taking all the precautions to reduce the risk.”


If you’re driving, another helpful resource on ice safety is Slick Tips from the Colorado Dept. of Transportation, which focuses on safety on icy roads. 

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Outdoors: The Photography Issue

For seventy-five years, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks & Wildlife) has published Colorado Outdoors, a bi-monthly magazine focusing on Colorado’s wildlife and outdoor recreation.  Each year, the magazine publishes a special photography issue, which features the best in wildlife photography around the state.  Many of the images are stunning; others, just plain cute (like this year’s cover photo of baby mountain goats).  Check out this year’s photography issue (v.62, n.6, Nov/Dec 2013) for some great photos including a barn swallow with an attitude; a baby bear’s important lesson; a moose reflecting on life in Colorado; some playful black-tailed prairie dogs; a busy beaver; and much, much more (and of course, more baby mountain goats).  Copies can be checked out from our library, or you can subscribe by visiting their website.  
 
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Colorado State Publications Blog

State Recreational Lands

Colorado contains nearly 3 million acres of State Trust Lands, which are federal lands that were endowed to Colorado upon its statehood in 1876.  Under a Public Access Program, certain state trust lands are open to the public for recreation.  The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife has just released a new booklet on these areas, entitled State Recreation Lands.  The booklet is available online and from our library.  You can also find more information on state trust lands by clicking here.

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Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Has a New State Park!

Colorado’s newest State Park opened to the public on May 21.  Staunton State Park in Jefferson County offers hiking trails, terrific scenery, and a waterfall.  Frances Hornbook Staunton donated 1,720 acres of her land to Colorado State Parks in 1986.  Over the years, parcels were added to make up the current 3,828-acre Staunton State Park, including 510 acres from the Elk Falls Ranch; the 1,000-acre Davis Ranch, and the 80-acre parcel that once belonged to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Mary Coyle Chase.  Popular features of the Park include the Davis Ponds for fishing and the 10-mile round-trip hike to Elk Falls Overlook, featuring a waterfall.  For more information on Staunton State Park, including hours, fees, directions, facilities, and activities, click here.

Photo courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife

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Colorado State Publications Blog

"Be Bear Aware"

Bear-human interactions have been in the news lately, as they often are this time of year, as bears go on a feeding frenzy before settling down to hibernate for the winter.  I’ve written previously about the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife’s publication Living with Bears, but CP&W has recently produced some new publications on the topic, all of which can be found on their website, Be Bear Aware.  On this site you will find information such as Bear Proofing Your Home; Attracting Birds, Not Bears; Building a Secure Beehive; Bear Resistant Trash Containers; Camping & Hiking in Bear Country; Bear Encounters; and even Be Bear Aware information for children.  All of the information on the site is quick and easy-to-read; if you are planning on spending time outdoors or live near bear country, you may be glad you did.

Make sure your bird feeders are bear-proof!  Photo courtesy Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.