As the 2017 legislative session kicks off today, Conservation Colorado, a 22,000-member-strong environmental organization, outlined its key priorities for the session.

Conservation Colorado this morning announced a campaign to bring the Outdoor Retailer show to Denver after the show’s contract with Salt Lake City expires in the summer of 2018.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

Highlights include dozens of events across the state, eight special beers, appearances by elected officials

Conservation Colorado and its partners have announced plans for celebrating the first-annual Colorado Public Lands Day, which will occur on Saturday, May 20th.

Ninety-five events are currently planned across the state, with more being added weekly. A map of all events can be found here, and highlights include:

  • “Governor Hickenlooper Celebrates Colorado Public Lands Day,” Grand Junction Off-Road Bike Race main stage, 12:00 PM, Grand Junction
  • The Future of Public Lands” featuring U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter and the band Elephant Revival, American Mountaineering Center, 5:00 PM, Golden
  • Events in Denver’s urban parks including Montbello Day of Beauty, 10:00 AM, and BBQ at Silverman Park, 12:00 PM
  • Party and live music, Powerhouse Science Center, 6:00 PM, Durango
  • Celebration featuring Colorado Public Lands Day architect state Senator Kerry Donovan, High Alpine Brewery, 5:00 PM, Gunnison

Eight special beers are being brewed by Colorado breweries to celebrate various aspects of public lands. Broken Compass’ spruce tip IPA, for example, pays homage to the mountains of Breckenridge, while Kannah Creek Brewing Company’s “Monument Irish Red” honors Colorado National Monument.

In addition, renowned Colorado-based band Elephant Revival is sponsoring a public lands trail cleanup on May 12th. The band has been dubbed the “official sound” of Colorado Public Lands Day 2017, and is hosting a contest to win free tickets to their show at Red Rocks on Sunday, May 21st, for anyone who helps promote Colorado Public Lands Day.

In May 2016 Colorado became the first state in the nation to establish a holiday recognizing the value of public lands to our state. The bill passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper. Colorado Public Lands Day will occur on the third Saturday in May each year.

More information about all of the events can be found at copubliclandsday.com.

The Outdoor Retailer Show and its partners today announced that Denver has been chosen as the new home for the $45 million biannual gathering.

On the final day for public comments during the Trump administration’s “review” of 27 national monuments, Coloradans across the state are standing up for our public lands, especially our most exceptional protected places like Canyons of the Ancients National Monument near Cortez.

“Coloradans have shown unequivocally that they support our national parks and monuments,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “President Trump and Secretary Zinke’s morally bankrupt threat to shrink or remove protections for our public lands has backfired and has resulted in even greater support for them. This attack has also shown Secretary Zinke’s initial claim to be a devotee of President Teddy Roosevelt to be a cruel farce.”

Since the beginning of the monuments review, announced in early May, Coloradans have spoken out in many ways:

  • As of this morning, nearly 12,000 Conservation Colorado members had submitted comments supporting Canyons of the Ancients. See a sampling of Coloradans’ comments here, including those from MB McAfee of Cortez and the CEO of Icelantic Skis.
  • Nationally, more than 2.5 million comments in favor of protecting our nation’s monuments have been submitted.
  • Editorial boards from across the state have weighed in for keeping Canyons of the Ancients protected or for the Antiquities Act, including the Denver Post, Grand Junction SentinelDurango Herald, and Cortez Journal.
  • Elected officials have weighed in, including:

– The Colorado state House unanimously voted to pass a resolution in support of the Antiquities Act and all of Colorado’s national monuments.
– Colorado’s statewide officials (Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and Governor John Hickenlooper) as well as local Congressman Scott Tipton have supported Canyons of the Ancients.
– 29 county commissioners from across the state signed a letter to the Secretary of Interior stating, “These monuments are our heritage, our future and our template for preservation.”
– The Cortez City Council signed a strong letter to the Secretary of Interior saying, “Canyons of the Ancients became a National Monument because it is a special place and merits the protections that Monument Status provides.”

While Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has made assurances to some of our Colorado leaders that Canyons of the Ancients will remain unharmed, other national monuments have come under direct attack, even in the face of widespread public support. Secretary Zinke has recommended that neighboring Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be shrunk.

Contact: Scott Braden, 720-530-7473

President Trump is in Utah today where he is expected to announce the slashing of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments by hundreds of thousands of acres.

Scott Braden, Conservation Colorado’s Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate, traveled to Salt Lake City this past weekend to join a protest against Trump’s actions (please feel free to use his photo included in this release’s header).

Braden stated: “President Trump’s actions are one of the largest attack on public lands in our nation’s history. This is a slap in the face to every Coloradan who cherishes our Western way of life, and is an move that threatens all protected public lands and national monuments. Trump’s decision is part of a offensive pattern of insults to Native American tribes, part of whose cultural legacy is protected by the Bears Ears National Monument. No park or monument is safe from this malicious administration, including those in Colorado.”

More information:

  • A campaign to protect Bears Ears was led by Hopi, Navajo, Ute and Zuni tribal leaders, and protected 100,000 archaeological sites. It links critical habitat corridors and several national parks along the Colorado Plateau.
  • The Antiquities Act has been deployed to create parks and protect some of Colorado’s most exemplary natural treasures including the Great Sand Dunes, Browns Canyon, Chimney Rock, and Colorado National Monument.
  • In a 2017 poll of seven Western states, 80% of voters supported keeping protections for existing national monuments.

Contact: Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772

Today Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Jared Polis introduced the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act to permanently protect the natural beauty, outdoor recreation, historic resources, and wildlife habitat of the White River National Forest area, including Camp Hale as the first-ever National Historic Landscape.

“This bill would protect 96,000 acres in the country’s busiest national forest,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “Throughout the inclusive process to develop this legislation, thousands of Coloradans have spoken up to protect this wild place and preserve it for hiking, fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, and world-class mountain biking.”

The bill will protect portions of the White River National Forest in Colorado’s Summit and Eagle counties. The region is home to iconic vistas and mountain towns that attract visitors from metro Denver and around the world. These wild places are at risk from overuse and development that could threaten the area’s clean water, wildlife, and booming outdoor recreation economy.

“Senator Bennet and Representative Polis are showing, once again, their incredible commitment and leadership on behalf of Coloradans who treasure their public lands. All of us want to ensure that the outdoor recreation industry continues to grow, that our wild places are preserved for our grandchildren, and that the natural heritage that defines Colorado remains for all to explore and enjoy,” continued Braden.

The Act would create 20,000 acres of new wilderness areas in the Williams Fork Mountains, Tenmile Range, and Hoosier Ridge, and it would expand the existing Holy Cross, Eagles Nest, and Ptarmigan Peak wilderness areas by another 20,000 acres.

In addition, nearly 30,000 acres of public lands surrounding Camp Hale will be protected as the country’s first National Historic Landscape. In 1945, Colorado’s challenging landscapes helped to train the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division who went on to fight in Italy’s mountains in World War II. Former members of the 10th Mountain Division went on to help found approximately 60 ski resorts around the country, including Vail, Aspen, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, and Steamboat. A flood of surplus skis and other outdoor equipment helped launch the modern outdoor recreation industry.

“Protecting the area around Camp Hale honors those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who returned to Colorado to help the state become one of the greatest places to play outside,” said Braden.

Senator Bennet and Representative Polis will celebrate the introduction of the bill at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show (OR Show) in Denver. In response to extreme anti-public lands policies, the OR Show moved from Utah to Colorado, making it the perfect place to mark the introduction of this historic legislation. Senator Bennet and Representative Polis will speak at the OR Show on Saturday, January 27, 4:30 – 5:00 p.m. at the Outdoor Research booth (44030-UL).

Today Colorado Senators passed SB18-066, which extends the operation of the State Lottery Division. The bill reauthorizes the Lottery Division, which will expire in 2024 without action from the General Assembly, to administer the program for 25 additional years. The proceeds from Colorado’s Lottery support outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state.

“Colorado is the only state that distributes 100 percent of lottery proceeds to support outdoor recreation and land conservation,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “The Senate’s support for lottery reauthorization sends a clear message that we value our public lands — from city playgrounds to state parks. Our Representatives should follow suit and pass this bill to ensure that Coloradans can continue to access and enjoy the trails, rivers, and wildlife we all treasure.”

Half of the proceeds from Colorado’s Lottery go to a program called Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). GOCO has returned more than $1.1 billion in funding to the people of Colorado. These projects have helped connect families to the outdoors, created and enhanced community trails and parks, built outdoor recreation facilities, preserved wild spaces and wildlife habitat, and improved river access and quality.

GOCO has funded projects from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope, including:

  • Creating and improving over 1,600 community parks and outdoor recreation areas.
  • Conserving more than 1 million acres.
  • Restoring or reconstructing 900 miles of trails.
  • Protecting nearly 1,000 miles of rivers.
  • Adding over 47,000 acres to the state parks system.
  • Investing in efforts supporting 43 endangered or threatened species.

About Conservation Colorado
Conservation Colorado protects Colorado’s environment and quality of life by mobilizing people and electing conservation-minded policymakers. Learn more at conservationco.org.

Contact: Jace Woodrum, 720-412-3772
jace@conservationco.org

Today the Colorado General Assembly passed SB18-066, sending it to Governor Hickenlooper’s desk for signature. The bill reauthorizes the Lottery Division, which will expire in 2024 without legislation, to administer the program for 25 additional years. The proceeds from Colorado’s lottery support outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state.

“Colorado is the only state that distributes 100 percent of lottery proceeds to support outdoor recreation and land conservation,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado. “The legislature’s support for lottery reauthorization 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.”

Half of the proceeds from Colorado’s Lottery go to a program called Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). GOCO has returned more than $1.1 billion in funding to the people of Colorado. These projects have helped connect families to the outdoors, created and enhanced community trails and parks, built outdoor recreation facilities, preserved wild spaces and wildlife habitat, and improved river access and quality.

GOCO has funded projects from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope, including:

  • Creating and improving over 1,600 community parks and outdoor recreation areas.

  • Conserving more than 1 million acres.

  • Restoring or reconstructing 900 miles of trails.

  • Protecting nearly 1,000 miles of rivers.

  • Adding over 47,000 acres to the state parks system.

  • Investing in efforts supporting 43 endangered or threatened species.

In spite of widespread public support of the rule, the Trump administration today took steps to repeal the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Methane Waste Rule. This 2016 rule was created to cut methane waste from oil and gas operations on public lands by requiring producers to fix leaky infrastructure and create gas capture plans prior to development.

“Again and again, the American people have spoken up for these rules that keep our air clean, help our communities stay healthy, and save taxpayers money. But the Trump administration refuses to listen,” said Jessica Goad, deputy director of Conservation Colorado. “Colorado has led the way with strong state-based safeguards that will remain in place, but smog and pollution don’t stay within state borders. Coloradans will certainly feel the effects of this harmful and short-sighted rollback.”

Undoing the BLM Methane Waste Rule will lead to greater air pollution from oil and gas development as producers won’t have to fix leaks or keep gas from escaping into the air. The methane will cause the same amount of short-term climate damage as 8.3 million cars driven over ten years.

In addition to methane, oil and gas operations release dangerous air toxins, including benzene, a known carcinogen, and smog-forming pollutants that can trigger asthma attacks and worsen respiratory diseases such as emphysema. The Trump Administration’s decision to undo this rule will cause more air pollution that will harm families, especially those living closest to oil and gas development.

Preventing methane waste saves taxpayers money. The BLM’s own analysis found that rolling back the rule will cost Americans more than $1 billion — $824 million of wasted natural gas and $259 million in lost public benefits — due to increased methane emissions.

This rule has been under attack since Trump took office, but every attempt to undo it has been met with immense public backlash. More than 600,000 public comments were submitted in the most recent public comment period in May, with 99.8 percent supporting the rule. The 2018 Conservation in the West Poll found that 74 percent of Coloradans support rules requiring oil and gas producers to prevent methane waste on public lands.