More than 40 proposed changes to big game hunting regulations will be under final review when the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission meets in Westminster on Thursday and Friday. Perhaps the most significant among them is a proposal to further reduce the areas allowed for youth late-season elk hunting.

"This is an issue hunters will want to be aware of as they prepare for next year's license draw," said Rick Cables, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "Hunters planning to hunt with youth hunters next year should check the Colorado big game brochure when it comes out in February for a synopsis of changes the Commission might approve."

Originally developed to help address overpopulations of elk on agricultural, private lands in western Colorado, the youth program is transitioning to offer appropriate hunting opportunities now that elk populations have been reduced to desired long-term levels.

Other changes attracting attention include a proposal to establish a mountain lion hunting season during the month of April. The current mountain lion hunting season runs from the day after the close of the last combined deer and elk rifle season (Nov. 19 in 2012) through March 31 in most Game Management Units. Mountain lion hunting ends Jan. 31 in GMU 61, 62 and 70.


Advertisement

Also up for consideration are potential new regulations for river outfitters expanding vessel and equipment requirements to specifically include stand-up paddleboards (SUP) and inflatable SUPs. The use of SUPs on rivers and lakes continues to increase dramatically in Colorado.

Get your float on. River permit season is in full swing this month and regulatory agencies are accepting applications to float many of the West's iconic rivers. Most pressing among them is Arizona's notoriously fickle Salt River between U.S. 60 and Arizona 288 above Roosevelt Reservoir, which requires a permit between March 1 and May 15. Salt River permit applications are due by Tuesday.

This year marks the second year that permits will be required to float the Ruby-Horsethief section of the Colorado River from Loma to Westwater, Utah. Weekday permits are self-issued while weekend permits become available by reservation 60 days prior to the launch date ( http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo.html). Permits for the more difficult Westwater Canyon run downstream are available through a separate reservation system with dates available two months in advance.

Other popular local rivers with approaching permit deadlines include the Yampa River from Deerlodge Park to Split Mountain Campground and the Green River through Gates of Lodore. Deadline for applications to float both rivers during high season is Feb. 1.

The conservation organization American Whitewater maintains an excellent online permit database with links to the appropriate applications at: http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/list-permits/

Breaking the ice. Ice fishing season is finally underway in most of the state, and that means tournament time isn't far off. The annual Antero Ice Fishing Contest in South Park is coming up on Jan. 19, with online registration closing on Jan. 17 ( www.antero-icefishing-contest.com). Phone (719-748-0033) and walk-in registration closes Jan. 18. Registration fees bump from $20 to $30 (cash only) on the day of the event.

Antero ice anglers will compete for cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100, as well as door prizes from event sponsors. Event proceeds go toward recreational improvements at the reservoir.

Wounded Warrior USA is hosting an ice fishing tournament Jan. 19 at Monument Lake, just west of downtown Monument. Adult registration costs $30 (two for $50) and kids are just $10. Participants receive a sponsor goody bag including some useful tournament tools. Tournament staff will be on hand to help and drill holes for new ice fishermen. Learn more and register at www.warriorsicefishing.com or call 720-298-9260.

For those not yet ready for tournament action, the Wildlife Experience in Parker is conducting ice fishing clinics in conjunction with Dave Bryant and Bill Miller of Lake Ice USA throughout the winter. The first clinic will be on Jan. 26, with classroom introduction followed by some ice time. Rods and tackle are provided for a fee of $23 for non-members ($20 for members). Visit Thewildlifeexperience.org or call 720-488-3300 to learn more and register.

Scott Willoughby: 303-954-1993, swilloughby@denverpost.com