In the six years I’ve worked for Conservation Colorado, I’ve become familiar with the reality that wilderness campaigns aren’t easy, overnight wins. Most are the product of years, sometimes decades, of hard work and perseverance by the people who are both connected to these places and willing to speak up for them as wilderness activists.

Yesterday evening, my colleagues and I connected with an inspiring group of Colorado wilderness activists on a statewide conference call. This call, the second in our series of quarterly Wilderness Activists Conference Calls, serves as a community forum for people who care about wild places and are willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard to protect Colorado’s iconic public lands.

Participants posed some fantastic questions, engaged in thoughtful conversations and shared insightful observations about the status of current and future wilderness campaigns and collaborations. We spoke in depth about the wilderness community’s increasingly positive relationship with the mountain bike community; our common interests and the challenges which can also divide. We discussed the benefits of wilderness to watershed health and the resulting opportunity to expand the tent of wilderness supporters.

Earlier in the year, inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we launched this call series with a question,  “What does wilderness mean to you?” The responses we received were fantastic:

“Wilderness is where I go to clear my head, to ground my spirit and to renew my soul.  Wilderness is where I feel most alive and at home in this world and I feel a deep sense of responsibility to work to protect wilderness for future generations.”

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Finding renewal in Browns Canyon. Photo: Scott Braden

“Preserving the majesty that is so important to our Colorado culture as well as preserving the vital ecosystem for wildlife to thrive.”

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A cluster of Columbines, Colorado’s state flower, blossom in Hermosa Creek. Photo: Emily Orbanek

“A deeply-rooted American value.”

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Behold the Central Mountains. Photo: Scott Braden

“Wilderness is a place where people are not the priority.”

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Life in Balance in Hermosa Creek. Photo: Emily Orbanek

“Fun in the sun!”

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Wilderness Activists on a recent hike in the Central Mountains. Photo: Scott Braden

These sentiments are as timeless as  our work as wilderness activists. The path to protection is rarely straight and never short. Though as the successes of the past 50 years showcase, the path is well trodden and the destination is more than worth the journey.

The Brown’s Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act, the Rocky Mountain Recreation and Wilderness Preservation Act, the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act, and the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act —  four strong wilderness bills born and bred in Colorado — have made it to the halls of Congress in D.C. where they await congressional approval. Please join me and my fellow wilderness activists today by signing our Wilderness at 50 petition and speaking up for the bright future of wilderness in our beautiful state!

Your West Slope Field Manager,