This May, Governor Hickenlooper signed a bill into law to continue funding outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state. The bill sends a clear message that we value our public lands — from city playgrounds to state parks. With this bill, we will ensure that Coloradans can continue to access and enjoy the trails, rivers, and wildlife we all treasure.

This bill wouldn’t have become law without the support of thousands of Coloradans from across the state who spoke up in support of our Colorado way of life. Here are the stories of six Coloradans who stood up for our parks:

Daniel Roman

Owner of Western Slope SUP

Grand Junction, Colorado

“In 2017 I opened Western Slope SUP, an outdoor recreation business in Delta County. As a new business in a struggling economy, I do my best to make my products appeal to visitors from outside the region. However, it is ultimately the beautiful, accessible, well maintained public lands of Delta County that bring clients to my doorstep. For 24 years, Great Outdoors Colorado funded projects have helped transform the stunningly beautiful, yet previously inaccessible, local landscape into one of Colorado’s most inviting natural playgrounds. These projects have made Delta County a more desirable place to live and visit. They also helped pave the way for me to be able run a successful outdoor business here. Try as I might, I would not likely convince people to come to this isolated corner of Colorado for just a half-day tour with Western Slope SUP. However, they will make the trip if they know that afterwards they can enjoy the Great Outdoors Colorado funded mountain bike trails being built this year. They will come to stroll along our previously inaccessible riverfront, which now has a nature trail and restored wetlands. They will come to enjoy Crawford State Park, where camping and day use areas have been put in place with Great Outdoors Colorado funding. The future of the Great Outdoors Colorado program will play a large role in what we can accomplish in the tourism industry here in Delta County.”

 

Ted J. Ciavonne

Ciavonne Roberts & Associates

Grand Junction, CO

“When I moved to Grand Junction in 1982, you could not get to the Colorado River. It was predominantly barricaded by junk yards, mill tailing piles, thickets of tamarisk, and privately held land. There was no river access, no trails, and little appreciation of the hidden opportunities. There were individuals like Helen Traylor and Bennett Boeschenstein, who quietly started to make projects happen while raising awareness of this amazing hidden amenity. Then the ‘heavyweight’ movers and shakers got involved and formed the Riverfront Commission, co-chaired by Jim Robb and Judge Ela. It was Jim Robb who coined the phrase ‘a string of pearls,’ describing the vision of multiple parks and miles of river trails stretching across the county. And today it is there; there’s plenty more to get accomplished, but the backbone is there. Junk yards are gone, as are the mill tailings. The Tamarisk Coalition has successfully opened miles of riverfront, while aiding in the re-establishment of native vegetation. Private lands have been purchased, and significant lands have been donated by gravel companies. You can be on a paved trail and see a mile of riverfront, parks with amphitheaters, frisbee golf, festival space, and open play. You can now safely ride your bike over 30 miles from Palisade to Grand Junction to Fruita to Loma, predominantly off-road on paved trails — the string’ passing through Riverside Park in Palisade, Corn Lake State Park, Las Colonias Riverfront Park, Riverside Park in Grand Junction, Junior Service League Park, Blue Heron Park, Walker Wildlife Area, and Fruita State Park — the ‘Pearls.’ Witnessing this evolution, and being a part of it, has been extraordinary! Great Outdoors Colorado has been the catalyst for all of this; it has been the economic driver. But its importance is not done, and it will never be done. As communities grow, there will be a continual needs to conserve land, create usable open space, and link neighborhoods, schools, and communities. And if a community is not growing, as was the case for many years in Grand Junction and Mesa County, Great Outdoors Colorado projects are proven to be a critical means of economic development to aid the community back to health.”

 

Jen Zeuner

Co-owner of Hot Tomato and Best Slope Coffee

Fruita, CO

“As the co-owner of several businesses in Fruita, I have personally experienced the benefits of the Great Outdoors Colorado program. Our businesses have become a welcoming place for Fruita’s locals and outdoorsy crowds. One Saturday, I noticed more people than normal in my pizza restaurant, people who I had never seen before, many of them families. Curious, I asked what brought them into the restaurant. To my surprise, many of them replied that they had been out biking on the newly paved Colorado Riverfront trail—a Great Outdoors Colorado funded project. We continue to see crowds, and we attribute this largely to Great Outdoors Colorado. Great Outdoors Colorado has contributed to our city of Fruita in a way that has helped my community, my business, and my staff. We all live in the Grand Valley because of its special way of life; let’s keep funding initiatives that reflect this.”

 

Jay Loschert

Montezuma Land Conservancy

Cortez, CO

“Here in southwestern Colorado, the youth of our community are directly benefiting from the funding recently secured from Great Outdoors Colorado’s Inspire Initiative. The Montezuma Inspire Coalition, made up of 18 local organizations and led by Montezuma Land Conservancy, will receive $1.8 million over the next three years. The funds will provide much needed support for our community’s vision to get ‘every kid in every zip’ outside more often. By creating new programs, enhancing places for outdoor experiences, and offering career pathways opportunities, the Great Outdoors Colorado funds remove the barriers for traditionally underserved segments of our community to connect with and conserve our state’s wonderful natural resources.”

 

 

Chuck McAfee

Resident of Montezuma County

“My grandparents moved to Montezuma County 100 years ago, to homestead and to begin grubbing out the sagebrush to establish a dry-land farm. I was born in Cortez 76 years ago, and my wife (also a native) and I are living on the farmland where my family settled. Our house is within a few hundred yards of the spot where my grandparents set up a tent — where they lived for a year (including a winter), where they began to raise my father, where they hauled water. I grew up working with my grandparents and parents on this farm land. It put me and my three siblings through college at the University of Colorado. Funding for Great Outdoors Colorado, The Conservation Trust Fund, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife—that’s what this is about for me. Lottery money is a great tool for improving the quality of life in Montezuma County. The funds that our county and towns receive from the Conservation Trust Fund are put to very good use by thoughtful people, and we appreciate the resulting improvements in quality of life. The Colorado Lottery is a relatively recent funding source in my span, and it is so good and important for us here. Great Outdoors Colorado, CPW, Conservation Trust Fund are all great tools for us in this corner of Colorado. They help us connect to our natural resources and to use them in a responsible way.”

 

 

Jennifer Morrall

Principal, Taylor Elementary

Palisade, Colorado

Three years ago, we had a playground and outdoor space that was straight out of the 1950s – metal slides, rickety swing sets, and nowhere to climb. Today, because of the Great Outdoors Colorado grant, we have a beautiful outdoor space with a tornado walking path that the school and community uses, safe and new equipment to play and climb on, swings that no longer catch little fingers in the chains, and a beautiful learning garden that students and staff are very proud of. I am so proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Great Outdoors Colorado grant process, and I appreciated the opportunity to make a learning and movement space for our 415 students that is safe, exciting, and beautiful.”