Civic Engagement Doesn’t End at the Ballot Box

By:  Ian Roche
  • Ian Roche, West Slope Field Organizer, reels in his fishing line

I was lucky enough to grow up in Evergreen, Colorado — a place where I had many opportunities to be immersed in the outdoors at an early age. Whether I was camping or hiking, I was happy to be outside. And as an adult, the joy that I felt then is even more pronounced now. There’s no other way I’d rather spend my time than waist-deep in a river with a fly rod in-hand, knee-deep in powder skiing a big mountain, or my shoulders heavy with a pack on in search of my next meal in the woods. The protection and expansion of these opportunities and the places that support them are what I live for — and why I do this work.

Ian Roche, West Slope Field Organizer

Ian Roche, West Slope Field Organizer.

Without policies in place to protect our lands, waters, wildlife, and the communities that depend on them, we can’t expect them to be healthy well into the future. Our environment and communities rely on us to craft these policies. And as the federal government works to cut the public out of lands management decisions and gut bedrock environmental policies, all while failing to act on climate, it’s more important than ever that all of us engage in the political process — at the local, state, and federal levels.

By engaging in politics we can shape a future worth inheriting. Here in Colorado, we’ve done an incredible job of this. Over the past year, Coloradans elected environmental leaders to offices across the state and championed conservation values in decision-making spaces. We passed nationally leading climate policy, prioritized public health and safety over oil and gas industry profits, protected water quality, and made it easier to buy, drive, and ride in electric vehicles. It was an exciting year, to say the least. And it was only possible because of you.

Without your involvement, these policies wouldn’t have been enacted — they were a direct result of the calls you made, letters you wrote, and conversations you had with our elected officials. 

These conversations are vital to moving Colorado forward and protecting what we love about our state. Our decision-makers are here to listen to us and create the change we want to see — but only if we make our voices heard.

A group gathers to discuss their civic involvement.This summer I held a community gathering where I spoke with people like you — people who make democracy happen. We talked about the huge wins for Colorado that passed this legislative session and the role that each of you played in holding our local elected officials accountable for protecting our climate, communities, and wild places.

But political accountability wasn’t the only important topic we discussed. We shared a dialogue about the importance of being involved and advocating for the things that matter most to us.

To me, that’s leaving an outdoor legacy for future generations — a healthy Colorado where the rivers run deep, the mountains are snow-covered, and the forests are resilient. 

I’m using my voice to make this vision a reality. But it’ll take all of our voices to protect the people and places that make Colorado so special. 

2019 Conservation Scorecard Title PageThis is why I encourage all of you to take a look at our scorecard and find your legislator; see how they voted on key environmental issues and let them know how you feel about their record. If they got 100 percent, thank them for being a champion and tell them to keep up their good work. If they scored poorly, call them and let them know you hope to see their record improve. Only the voices that speak out are heard. So let your elected officials know what you think! Future Coloradans will thank you.