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Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Awareness Week

During this “pandemic year,” Colorado residents have been reminded of something we have known for a long time: getting outdoors is healthy for you.  We’ve written about the health benefits of outdoor adventures, in general, and of fly fishing specifically, many times over the last few years.  Whether it is physical or mental, emotional or spiritual, outdoor adventures does a person good. 

This year, visitors and tourists have tapped into the Colorado outdoors in unprecedented numbers.  State parks saw an increase of more than 30% in usage and city parks, open spaces, and federal lands were similarly accessed. And adventures don’t have to stop because the temperatures start to drop.  Colorado does, indeed, offer a winter wonderland.

Governor Jared Polis has declared the week of December 7 as Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Awareness Week.  We at Angler’s Covey stands behind this declaration 100%. While our fly fishing opportunities in the backcountry pretty much get iced out and frozen over, we support the efforts for safe and healthy exploration of Colorado’s natural resources in all seasons.

With the current conditions from COVID-19, adventure-seekers are showing an unprecedented interest in backcountry experiences:  snowmobiling, showshoeing, fat biking and hut trips, along with cross-country and backcountry skiing. Outdoor enthusiasts pursuing these adventures need to be aware of two potential risks: impact on the resources and personal safety (see our past blogs on proper layering and hypothermia risks).

A wide and diverse group of stakeholders –– Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, tribal partners, and local land managers –– have partnered to encourage outdoor enthusiasts to commit to three principles outlined in the Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Pledge:  Know Before You Go, Recreate Responsibly, and Care for Colorado. A special shout-out to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in founding the Care for Colorado Coalition and partnering with the Colorado Tourism Office. As one of the many members in the outdoor recreation industry, and as year-round outdoor enthusiasts ourselves, we fully support these principles:

The Colorado Tourism Office has created a full menu of resources to support the outdoor enthusiast pursuing Colorado’s backcountry adventures.  Check out the “basecamp” of resources here: Come to Life Colorado.

Watch this blog space and check out our Facebook page for updates throughout Colorado Backcountry Winter Safety Week, December 7 – December 13, 2020.

Best Practice 1: Know Before You Go / Choose Your Destination Wisely

Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back home.
Some areas that are easy adventures in
the summer can become dangerous with winter conditions. Know and respect trail and area
closures. Have a backup plan if the trailhead is closed, crowded or has unsafe conditions.
Discover local, state, and federal trails and track closures on the Colorado Trail Explorer
(COTREX) app.

Best Practice 2: Recreate Responsibly/Avoid Activities Beyond Your Skill Level

stemming from high-risk types of activities may require extensive resources. Being responsible
outdoors can help prevent overloading first responders, search and rescue and medical

Best Practice 3: Care for Colorado / Trash the Trash

Don’t trash the backcountry.
Whatever you pack in, pack it out. No matter how you enjoy the outdoors, it’s all of our responsibility to
keep Colorado landscapes clean. Respectful recreation includes disposing of trash properly, not
walking on or damaging vegetation, not stacking rocks on top of each other, and properly
extinguishing campfires.

Best Practice 4: Know Before You Go / Check Avalanche Information Center

Weather can be unexpected and change quickly,
and avalanches can strike even the mostprepared winter recreationist.
Check conditions with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center
online to determine local mountain weather and safety risks.
CAIC Statewide Twitter Account:

Best Practice 5: Recreate Responsibly / Bring the Proper Safety Equipment

Safety first.
Bring the proper safety gear for outdoor winter adventures, which may include extra warm
layers, first-aid kit, a mask, a shovel, compass, whistle and avalanche transceiver and probe.
Consider your vehicle as part of your winter emergency gear too (e.g. tires, flashlights, blankets,
extra food and water, etc.).

Best Practice 6: Keep Wildlife Wild

Colorado’s amazing wildlife
is partof our draw to live and play in our great state. But wildlife is wild, and we all need to do our part
to ensure they stay that way. Give wildlife space, do not harass, feed or approach them.
Keeping wildlife safe and conserving their habitat means respecting trail closures and always
picking up and properly throwing away all trash.

Best Practice 7: Take The Pledge

Nature belongs to us all:
trail etiquette is social etiquette. Knowing the rules of the backcountry makes the outdoor experience
more safe and enjoyable for all. Get ahead of backcountry winter recreation dangers. Take the
. Be educated, be safe, be kind to wildlife and others.

#KnowBeforeYouGo #LiveLifeOutside #RecreateResponsibly #CareForColorado

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