GMU 76 Map
|This map is web optimized to reduce load times. Download the full-sized map (10MB).|
The map to the right (click to enlarge), shows all of Game Management Unit 76 (GMU is outlined in red). The colored areas in the middle of the map show the severity of burns. Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants big game hunters to be aware of the landscape conditions in Game Management Unit 76 following the fires in June and July. GMU 76 is vast and encompasses 970 square miles. The West Fork fire complex burned just about 14 percent of the GMU area. The entire area is open for hunting.Photos of Burned Area in GMU 76
The burn area photos
show what the forest looks like in various burned areas. The variation of burn activity throughout the forest is substantial. There is a legend above each photograph.Recent photos of the burn area
show regeneration of vegetation occurring quickly in many sections.
The Durango Herald has posted a video
which shows regeneration of vegetation in the burn area.
Overall Effects of the Fires
The effects of the fires for big game will be positive – for both the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The annual summer monsoons brought steady rains throughout July and well into August. That moisture has already helped to stimulate new plant growth that is high in nutritional value and extremely attractive to big game animals. The growth will continue well into the hunting season, and provide new forage for several years to come. Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists believe these conditions will prove to be nearly ideal for hunting big game this season and well into the future. Parks and Wildlife staffers who have recently flown over and hiked in the burn areas have seen deer and elk utilizing that terrain.
The appearance of the landscape in some areas of the unit, however, is significantly changed. Large expanses are burned and thousands of trees are charred. To see the areas that burned click on the PDF of the maps at right.
Understand, however, that not every acre within the marked areas burned. Some burn areas are large, and some are spotty. The photos also show the severity of the burns, as described by the U.S. Forest Service.
Hunters can contact the Rio Grande National Forest for more specific information.
If any hunters who have drawn elk tags in GMU 76 do not want to hunt there this year, they can receive a license refund or be allowed to retain their preference points. Elk hunters should be aware that during the six seasons in GMU 76—archery, muzzle loader and the four rifle seasons—there are only 1,265 licenses issued for the 2013 season.
No negative effects are evident for moose in M-4, bighorns in S-53, or on deer in GMU 76. Hunters can keep their license, receive a refund or retain their points.
To turn in a license, fill out the refund form before the start of the season and return it to a CPW office. The form can be found on the License Refund Application page.
Below is a more detailed description of current conditions in GMU 76 as compiled by Stephanie Steinhoff, terrestrial biologist in the San Luis Valley, and Brent Woodward, district wildlife manager for GMU 76.