Boating, state park and wildlife safety tips over Memorial Day weekend – Sterling Journal-Advocate

Wear a life jacket for water sports, recommends Colorado Parks and Wildlife. (Dustin Doskocil/Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

As people prepare for an outdoor adventure this holiday weekend, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) wants to share some expert outdoor tips for responsible recreation to avoid a search and rescue scenario.

Coloradons and the outdoor community play an essential role in keeping our landscapes healthy, living in harmony with wildlife, and making the outdoors inclusive and welcoming for all.

Know before you go

Be aware of the weather conditions, water temperatures and road closures at your intended visit location. Even in late spring, Colorado can experience snowstorms, high winds, and extremely cold water temperatures.

Reservations are required for camping in all Colorado State Parks. (Dustin Doskocil/Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

• Camping reservations are required in Colorado State Parks.

• Expect queues and possible gate closures on a bank holiday weekend. Use the CPW Park Finder Tool to discover outdoor activities in any state park and find out about park or trail closures.

• Change your outdoor adventure based on the weather forecast. If the area you want to explore is experiencing bad weather, help yourself and our field staff by changing your outdoor plan to avoid dangerous conditions.

• Download the COTREX app to find a list of nearby outdoor options if your desired departure point is crowded or closed.

Life jackets save lives

As boat ramps are open and warmer temperatures tempt people to take recreational activities on the water, CPW is urging the public to wear life jackets while engaging in water sports such as power boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming and fishing.

Last year was the deadliest year in Colorado waters, and most of the deaths occurred in people swimming, paddling, or kayaking without life jackets. In celebration of National Safe Boating Week, CPW is promoting Safe Boating Tips to educate outdoor enthusiasts on how to be careful in Colorado waters.

Kayaks are considered personal watercraft and life jackets are required. (Colorado Parks and Wildlife/photo courtesy)

• Wear your life jacket.

• Paddleboards and kayaks are considered watercraft and life jackets are required.

• Take a boat safety course in Colorado.

• Wear all required safety gear.

• Have your ship subjected to a safety inspection.

• Review navigation techniques.

• Be aware of the weather and water conditions.

• Sober Boating – Alcohol consumption is the leading factor in recreational boating fatalities.

Keep wildlife wild

Spring can be a particularly sensitive time for wildlife as many species are nesting, giving birth or coming out of hibernation.

Do not feed or approach young wild animals. (Colorado Parks and Wildlife Photo)

• Do not feed or approach young wild animals.

• Be careful on trails and when camping.

• Walk dogs on leashes on dog-friendly trails.

• If you see wildlife that appears to be sick or injured, leave them alone. Call your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office and speak to a trained wildlife officer.

Be careful with fire

Colorado’s low humidity has advantages, but can lead to dry and dangerous conditions. Keep campfires small and manageable to avoid starting wildfires.

• Visit for up-to-date information on county fire restrictions and bans.

• When putting out a fire, water until you can deal with the embers.

• Never leave a fire unattended and never throw hot coals into a dumpster.

• Purchasing locally-sourced firewood can help prevent invasive creatures from crossing state lines.

For more information on Colorado State Parks, visit

Join us in preserving Colorado, Colorado. Read more about the Keep Colorado Wild Pass and how it benefits Colorado wildlife and the great outdoors at: and

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