Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper today announced an executive order directing Colorado air quality officials to begin a process to adopt state advanced clean car standards in response to the Trump administration’s expected rollback of federal rules. The governor’s executive order will make Colorado the first state in the interior of the country to chart the path of enacting these standards, and it will give Coloradans strong safeguards from air pollution caused by gasoline and diesel vehicles.

By initiating this public rulemaking process, Colorado could join 13 other states and the District of Columbia as leaders in clean car technology and clean air. Ultimately, the implementation of the standards will save Coloradans money at the gas pump, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce pollutants from millions of vehicles.

 

Advocates for the environment and public health have released the following statements:

“Motor vehicles are a significant contributor to air pollution and climate change. As the federal government continues to roll back environmental protections to appease industry interests, it’s up to the states to take action. Colorado can’t — and won’t — be left behind. Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order ensures that Colorado is a leader in the nation and shows that Coloradans are committed to cutting air pollution for the sake of our health, economy, and environment.”  – Maria Handley, acting executive director, Conservation Colorado.

“Transportation is the number two source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado — and number one source of emissions in the nation. Adopting clean car standards means fewer bad air days and a better quality of life for citizens across our state.”  – Garrett Garner-Wells, director of Environment Colorado.

“Inefficient cars are just wasteful – they cost consumers every time we go to the pump and they hurt our health when they produce unnecessary pollution. Clean car standards result in more fuel efficient and cleaner vehicles, which benefit our wallets and our personal health. As technology advances, we need to take advantage of even cleaner, more fuel efficient cars. That’s why we applaud Governor Hickenlooper’s action to make Colorado a leader around fuel efficient, cleaner cars.”  – Danny Katz, director of CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group).

“With the Trump administration abdicating leadership on cleaning up tailpipe pollution and saving consumers money on gas, states need advanced vehicle standards to ensure their citizens get to drive the cleanest, most affordable cars on the market. This action will help ensure Coloradans still get clean air and cleaner cars.”  – Noah Long, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Governor Hickenlooper deserves credit for taking bold action to make Colorado the first state in the Mountain West to adopt the Clean Car Standards. As the federal government continues to favor corporate interests over the public good, Governor Hickenlooper’s action will help save families from paying extra at the gas pump and help keep pollution out of our Rocky Mountain air.”  – Zach Pierce, senior campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Colorado.

 

Background:

Thirteen states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have adopted a set of state clean car standards designed to reduce the emission of smog-forming pollutants, particulate matter, and carbon pollution and to support the development of zero-emission vehicle technology. These states represent nearly 40 percent of the new vehicle sales market. Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order puts Colorado on the path to join these states by initiating a public process with the Air Quality Control Commission.

recently released report details some of the health and economic benefits of adopting the Advanced Clean Car Standards. Denver was ranked the 11th most polluted city in the nation for ozone levels, and vehicle emissions are one of the largest contributors. Adopting the advanced standards will not only protect Coloradans from illness, but it will save money. According to the report, with the clean car standards in place, by 2040 Colorado would save roughly $16 to $37 million in health care costs; reduce the number of work days lost due to illness from air pollutant emissions; and save $260 million per year in social costs from long-term damage caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The governor’s executive order comes in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ongoing efforts to roll back 2012 federal clean car standards designed to improve air quality and protect public health. The federal emissions standards have been good for Colorado, both in terms of cost savings and better air quality:

  • According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, no other federal policy is delivering as much oil savings, consumer benefits, and carbon emission reductions as the 2012 Federal Vehicle Emissions Standards.
  • According to AAA, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle in 2017 is $8,649. Because of the federal clean cars standards, the average Colorado household was expecting to see $2,700 in savings by 2030 from lower gas bills.
  • Transportation is the #2 source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado, and the highest in the nation. The federal standards were set to reduce carbon emissions in Colorado by 4.5 million tons per year.
  • In the Denver area, emissions of smog-causing air pollutants from vehicles is set to increase by about 15 percent if the federal standards are rolled back. For Coloradans, especially the 343,000 people who are living with asthma, more air pollution means more coughing and wheezing, increased risk of infection, and permanent damage to lung tissue.

 

CONTACTS:

Jace Woodrum, Conservation Colorado, 720-412-3772

Danny Katz, Colorado Public Interest Research Group, 608-215-0929

Garrett Garner-Wells, Environment Colorado, 321-536-6019

Noah Long, Natural Resources Defense Council, 860-515-6885

Thomas Young, Sierra Club, 719-393-2354

At the end of the day, it’s all about leadership.

Now that the legislative session is over, we can celebrate what passed, lament what didn’t pass, and plan ahead for what we need to get done next year. Conservation Colorado lauds a few of the stand-out lawmakers who advocated for our state’s communities, public lands, water, and air this session. This year at our annual Rebel with a Cause gala we are excited to celebrate House Majority Leader KC Becker as our 2018 Legislator of the Year for her leadership addressing climate change head-on and for her advocacy in support of measures that protect our communities from the impacts of oil and gas development.

Here are five other exceptional lawmakers whose partnership makes our work possible.

Representative Faith Winter

Representative Faith Winter

It’s easy for conservationists to keep their faith in Representative Winter as an environmental champion. At the Capitol, she is an outspoken advocate for equity in transportation. Rep. Winter was one of the main engineers behind the revised Senate Bill 1 transportation funding measure and helped fight for dedicated funding for options that include more buses, more bike lanes, and more sidewalks. As the Chair of the Transportation and Energy committee, she sponsored legislation like the RTD Regional Transportation District Low-income Fare Program, which aimed to create a program to offer reduced fares to low-income RTD riders. This session, Rep. Winter demonstrated her ability to reach compromise on critical legislation and proved her willingness to take on the culture of sexual harassment at the Capitol, one of the toughest fights we’ve ever seen under the Golden Dome.


Representative Dylan Roberts

Representative Dylan RobertsA mid-term appointment, Representative Dylan Roberts filled the seat of  conservation champion Representative Diane Mitsch Bush when she decided to run for Congress. He got off to a great start with a focus on protecting our water, advancing rural economic development, and preserving our unique landscapes.

Rep. Roberts was a primary sponsor of one of our priority bills, aimed to hold mining companies accountable if their future operations have any negative impacts on Colorado’s water. Despite broad support from local communities, the measure ultimately died in a Senate committee.


Senator Leroy Garcia

Senator Leroy Garcia

Senate Minority Leader Leroy Garcia has emerged as a passionate public lands advocate. He was the prime sponsor on the reauthorization of the Colorado Lottery division, which provides vital funding for Great Outdoors Colorado, a program that supports outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state. Additionally, in response to the Trump administration’s attempt to lease lands near the Great Sand Dunes National Park for oil and gas drilling, Sen. Garcia penned a passionate op-ed in the Pueblo Chieftaincondemning the federal push to auction off our public lands as “a direct threat to our communities, our economy, and our way of life.”  

As the new Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Garcia has stepped up to the plate and batted on behalf of public lands protections.


Representative Dominique Jackson

Representative Dominique Jackson

Representative Dominique Jackson ardently fights for the safety of her constituents and Coloradans across the state. Rep. Jackson sponsored multiple bills that focused on protecting the constitutional rights of state citizensestablishing a program to offer reduced fares to low-income RTD riders, and adding more safety requirements for oil and gas wells and pipelines. As a member on three important committees in the House, Rep. Jackson seizes on her opportunities to vote on numerous bills that could impact Coloradans’ public safety, environmental health, and human rights.


Senator Kerry Donovan

Senator Kerry DonovanThere doesn’t seem to be a pressing West Slope issue that Senator Kerry Donovan won’t take on. From rural broadband deployment to gathering climate change data, Sen. Donovan advances legislation that addresses the intersections between dynamic policies, resource accessibility, and geographical challenges.

Sen. Donovan also sponsored a water conservation bill, the Reclaimed Water Use On Industrial Hemp bill, that alleviates some of the demand on our overstretched rivers by expanding the opportunities to use recycled water. Together, these pieces of legislation convey Sen. Donovan’s drive to fight for our communities and urban water conservation to reduce the pressure on the water supplies of Colorado’s agricultural industry on the West Slope.


Departing Champions

Speaker Crisanta Duran and Senator Lucía Guzmán


As Speaker of the House and Senate Minority Leader, Representative Crisanta Duran and Senator Lucia Guzman have fought for all Coloradans. They have advocated for urgent action to fight climate change, negotiated bipartisan compromises to ensure transportation options that make sense for all of us, and spoken up for those whose voices have been marginalized for far too long. This session, their leadership in standing by sexual harassment survivors was an exceptional example that such behavior will not and cannot be tolerated.

Senator Matt Jones and Representative Mike Foote


Throughout their tenures in the state legislature, Representative Mike Foote and Senator Matt Jones have partnered as stalwart champions for protecting Colorado communities from the harmful impacts of industrial oil and gas development. This session they worked together on three commonsense oil and gas bills, including the Protect Act, which would have enhanced the ability of local government to regulate oil and gas activities and hold operators accountable.

 

We’re proud to work with these lawmakers and so many other passionate legislators at the Capitol to fight for the protection of Colorado’s lands, air, and water. But too many good policies were blocked this year by anti-conservation legislators. That’s why we need everyone to join us in the fight for the future and help us elect pro-conservation leaders in the legislature.

Written by Audrey Wheeler

120 days. 100 legislators. Among a storm of #MeToo scandals, teacher protests, civil rights debates, and more, we made progress and fought some important fights for our environment.

In case you haven’t been keeping up, here are the biggest wins, bad things blocked, and losses for our air, land, water, and communities coming out of this year’s legislative session.

VICTORIES:

Bicyclist riding through city: increased sustainable transitInvesting in transportation for all Coloradans. After two years of fighting, we notched a huge victory in passing SB 001, a bipartisan bill that includes major investments in transportation options like senior and disability buses, sidewalks for pedestrians, highway shoulders for tractors, and resources to keep everyone safe. It is a step towards funding our state’s massive transportation needs in a fiscally responsible manner, and it supports a system that will benefit all Coloradans. With 2.5 million more people expected to live in Colorado in the next 25 years, these options are more important than ever to combat congestion and improve air quality. While we believe additional revenues are needed to address all our transportation needs, this bill provides critical initial investments to move us forward.

Two kids point across a streamRenewing funding to protect our public lands. A massive funding stream for Colorado’s outdoors was reauthorized through Colorado’s lottery! This dedicates funding for parks, open spaces, and outdoor recreation in all 64 counties of Colorado. This bill (SB 066) will help boost local projects to protect our outdoors.


Solar panels: Increased Solar StorageAdvancing renewable energy through storage. Energy storage is an essential companion to renewables that will enable a clean energy future. Two bills tackled this need (SB 009 and HB 1270). SB 009 declares that power customers have a right to install, interconnect, and use energy storage systems, making sure that homeowners can store their renewable energy, while HB 1270 directed the Public Utilities Commission to consider storage in as utilities make plans for future energy sources.


Commercial irrigation at sunset: Conserved WaterConserving Colorado’s water. We helped pass three bills to allow reused water for flushing toilets (HB 1069), growing hemp (SB 038), and farming edible crops (HB 1093)! “Reuse” water is when water is used for one purpose, say to wash dishes, and then treated to a safe standard to be used again, like to water a garden. When a water provider is able to use the same water multiple times, it means more demands can be met without increasing their overall water consumption. Reusing water helps conserve our limited water resources, and these bills will save thousands of gallons a year.


A single deer in an aspen grove: protected our wildlifeProtecting state parks and wildlife. Coloradans depend on Colorado Parks and Wildlife to deliver on its mission and ensure future generations have access to the recreational opportunities available today. SB 143 allows CPW to prevent budget shortfalls and meet its goals by increasing user fees and adjusting them to keep pace with inflation.


Rural landscape with one home: Supported rural communitiesSupporting rural communities. Two bills were passed this year: first, the Rural Economic Advancement of Colorado Towns (REACT) Act aims to provide assistance to rural towns that have experienced significant economic shifts such as industry closure. This bill (SB 005) will help make sure our rural communities have support from the state of Colorado as they face transitions, often related to the shift to clean energy. Second, SB 002 adds funding for increasing broadband to rural areas across Colorado. Currently, many rural communities do not have access to broadband internet, or if they do, its poor and unreliable quality. Rural communities deserve high-speed, functional infrastructure so their opportunities to earn a good life are not limited.

These are just some of the 27 bills we helped pass this year with the support of our 36,000 members!

But not everyone was in line with conservation interests. We also worked to kill 11 bills this legislative session that would have been bad for our air, land, water, or people.

BLOCKED:

  • Stopping Colorado from fighting climate change. SB 226 sought to prohibit Colorado from being involved in the U.S. Climate Alliance, which Governor Hickenlooper signed onto last summer. This bill was a thinly veiled attempt to stall Colorado in its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This bill passed the Senate but was soundly killed in the House, thanks in part to our members’ advocacy.
  • Repealing electric vehicle tax credits. Colorado’s innovative tax credits make our state the best in the country for buying electric vehicles. The credits have helped spur consumers to switch to EVs, giving us the 6th highest market share in the country for EVs. At the same time, EVs benefit our air quality and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. SB 047 would have ended these tax credits early, cutting off the benefits of EVs to our air and our economy, but we ensured the death of this shortsighted legislation.

And of course, we weren’t able to win in every fight this year. Some of the bills we worked hard to pass this legislative session met their ends in the state Senate, which is under anti-conservation leadership.

LOSSES:

  • Protecting Colorado’s water and rivers. A bill (HB 1301) to hold mining companies responsible for water cleanup would have updated our state’s hard rock mining laws to protect the rushing rivers and drinking water we rely on. Unfortunately, this bill was killed in the Senate by pro-industry voices.
  • Fighting climate change. One bill (HB 1297) would have allocated funds to prepare Colorado for climate change. Another (HB 1274) would have set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels. Despite passing the House, both bills were sent to kill committees in the Senate.
  • Expanding electric vehicle infrastructure. Our transportation sector is changing, and we need the infrastructure to keep up the pace. SB 216 would have done so by lifting a restriction on utility companies’ ability to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure to meet the growing need and demand across Colorado. Despite electric cars like the Nissan Leaf gaining in popularity around the state, Senators voted to let Colorado fall behind.

You may notice one big issue is missing from this list: oil and gas! In fact, oil and gas was such an important and divisive issue in this year’s legislative session that we’re writing about it separately just to relay what went down. Read it here!

In all, it was a successful legislative session, despite the anti-conservation leadership we’ve seen in the state Senate. We are proud to have worked to pass bills that will be good for the future of all Coloradans, and we’re ready to keep fighting for the big issues that didn’t get addressed in this year’s legislature.

We couldn’t do this work without the support of members like you. But there is more to be done as we gear up for the next election. Sign up now to volunteer to help elect a pro-conservation legislature!That way we’ll be able to see even more victories next year.

Written by Emelie Frojen

In Colorado, our stunning mountains, open vistas, and rushing rivers inspire us and connect us to nature. Unfortunately, our public lands face countless attacks from powerful interests, like corporate polluters and the Trump administration, who are out of line with the values Coloradans hold dear.

As Coloradans, it’s our responsibility to show decision makers that we value and cherish our parks, wild places, and public lands. That’s why this month is Conservation Colorado’s Month of Action. Between now and May 31, we have a goal of generating 10,000 actions in support of Colorado’s outdoor spaces.

Here are 31 actions you can take this May to protect where you play!

1.Celebrate Colorado Public Lands DayDid you know May 19th is Colorado Public Lands Day? In May 2016, Colorado became the first state in the nation to establish a state holiday for our public lands. The third Saturday in May is now recognized as Colorado Public Lands Day, a day to celebrate how our public lands are central to our economy and our quality of life. So, make sure to mark your calendar and take a chance to get outside, enjoy our unparalleled wild places, and give back to the public lands that provide us with so much. Find an event or volunteer opportunity near you at http://copubliclandsday.com .

2. Support more diversity in the outdoors. For far too long, public lands have been inaccessible for many communities due to their race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and other reasons. Our public lands are for everyone, and it is our job to make sure they are accessible for marginalized groups. Take time this month to learn about the history of diversity on our public lands by watching this video and supporting groups that are working to make the outdoors the inclusive place it should be.

3. Take a friend or family member out on public lands. One of the best ways to spread the public lands love is to share it! Take a friend, or five, and go for a hike, sit by a river, or take a picnic to your local park. There are many ways we can enjoy public outdoor spaces so make sure to share it.

4. Attend or host an event for Colorado Public Lands Day. There are numerous events to celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day happening across Colorado. Find the one closest to you or host an event.

5. Share your story and listen to others. You don’t have to wait until May 19th to celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day! There are several early events going on that you can attend for free, including a storytelling event in Denver, an event at New Belgium Brewery, and another one in Steamboat Springs.

6. Spread the word about Colorado Public Lands Day on social media. By doing so, you are showing your support of our public lands and encouraging others to act too!

7. Protect Colorado’s Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National ForestsThe Forest Service announced that it’s updating its plan to protect Colorado’s Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests. The land under review is a 3-million-acre forest that includes 10 Wilderness areas and five fourteeners. The Grand Mesa, just east of Grand Junction, is a large, flat-topped mountain with over 300 lakes. Lend your voice to help protect this beautiful place.

8–9. Support and Celebrate the Passing of Great Outdoors Colorado. This past legislative session, we worked hard to help pass a bill that reauthorizes the Colorado Lottery Division, which supports outdoor recreation and land conservation in all 64 counties in the state. Join us in celebrating the passing of the GOCO bill. Learn more about GOCO and the outdoor places it supports.

10–14. Support the Continental Divide Bill For nearly a decade, conservationists, local leaders, mountain bikers, sportsmen, veterans, and others have come together to forge a proposal that balances protecting wilderness-quality lands with sustaining the recreation economy on which local communities depend. Learn more about the bill on our websiteTell Cory Gardner to support Continental Divide Bill. Thank Senator Bennet and Representative Polis for their hard work on the bill. Spread the word: Explore the area, share a photo, and tag it #COContinentalDivide.

Photo: Devon Balet

15. Visit the closest public lands to you! You don’t have to get into a car and drive for hours to get outside! Visiting local parks and open spaces is a great way to appreciate public land that is free and easy. Many Coloradans can reach these places by walking, biking, or taking public transportation. Challenge yourself to get to a local park without taking a car, and share your adventure with us on social media by tagging us @conservationcolorado and using the hashtag #protectwhereyouplay

16–17. Support our national monumentsOur national monuments contain cultural or historic significance and must remain untouched by destructive development, energy exploration, or construction. That’s why it’s so important that we all take action to prevent the Trump administration from carrying out their attempts to diminish the size and protections for all of these monuments. Our national monuments should remain protected for future generations to enjoy; they are a gift that belongs to all. Take action or donate to protect them.

Photo: Marc Toso

18. Attend our Rebel with a Cause GalaNow in its 17th year, Rebel with a Cause is the largest environmental event in the state. The gala brings together over 750 people for a night of celebration and fun. Join Colorado’s most prominent decision-makers, philanthropists, businesses, and environmentalists for a night you don’t want to miss. Our 2018 Rebels are the native-led organizations who are fighting to protect Bears Ears National Monument, Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and Utah Diné Bikéyah. Buy a ticket, become a sponsor, or donate to the silent auction.

19–20. Stand up against lease sales. One of the greatest threats to our public lands are oil and gas lease sales. Rather than large sell offs, the Bureau of Land Management has the power to lease land to oil and gas companies for 10 years. Flying under the radar, this process subjects the land to construction and drilling without much public action or opinion! Read up on Colorado lease sales and stay up to date. Our efforts to protect Colorado lands from oil and gas lease sales will continue for years to come. That’s why we need ongoing support to fund this important work. Donate today to protect where you play.

21. Pick up trash on a local trail. Help out public land managers by bringing an extra trash bag on your next hike and picking up trash along the way.

22. Share a photo of your favorite public lands spot on social mediaTell us why and be sure to tag us @conservationcolorado and use the hashtag #protectwhereyouplay

23. Volunteer to do trail work! Donate your time to the places you love.

24. Register to voteThe best way you can stand up for our public lands is with your vote. We have an important election this fall and need your help making sure the environment is a priority. Make sure you are registered or that your registration is up-to-date.

25–26. Get engaged locally. Do you know who your local representative is or how they stand on environmental issues? Visit our website to find out who they are and where they stand. Now, take a moment to tell your local representative how much public lands mean to you.

27. Leave no traceWhen you’re outside, make sure you’re following “leave no trace” guidelines and are making an active effort to keep our lands pristine.

28. Stay up-to-date on Colorado public lands issues by signing up for our email listThis will help you stay in the know on all of the issues affecting Colorado’s land, air, water, and communities.

29. Watch and share our video! This episode of Conservation Chats focuses on how you can take action in support of public lands.

30. Work at a business that cares about the environment? Encourage your employer to take action! The Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance (COBA) is a coalition of Colorado’s leading outdoor recreation businesses and businesses who love the outdoors that recognize the fundamental role public lands play in sustaining Colorado’s emerging economy. Join our COBA program and ask your employer about a donation match program.

31. Donate to the places you loveWe are working hard to protect the places that make Colorado special! By donating to us, you are helping us fight for our land, air, water, and communities. The best thing could do this May is protect where you play.

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.

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

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).

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.

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.

Written by Audrey Wheeler

Across the U.S., our national parks and monuments are widely revered. In a 2017 poll of seven Western states, 80% of voters supported keeping protections for existing national monuments.

Since the days of President Theodore Roosevelt, presidents have had the authority to designate special places as national monuments. Between 1906 and today, sixteen presidents — Democrats and Republicans — have used this power to create new national monuments.

These monuments have protected some of our country’s most beloved places, from the Grand Canyon, which saw 6 million visitors last year and is now a national park, to the Statue of Liberty, which had 4.5 million visitorsin 2016.

However, this April President Trump issued an executive order to review 27 national monuments that were protected in the last two decades. The idea was that by conducting a “review” of these monuments, his administration could attempt to shrink or eliminate them. This could upend protections for millions of acres of public lands across the county.

In response, hundreds of thousands of people have submitted comments to the Department of the Interior, laden with examples of the economic, spiritual, psychological, and historical reasons for preserving our national monuments.

Here in Colorado, one of our national monuments is being scrutinized. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was designated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, and has the highest density of archeological sites in the U.S. While it too has seen controversy, this area is now a well-loved and established destination in southwest Colorado. Since it became a national monument, the county has grown in population by 10 percent, alongside a boost in jobs, per-capita income, and personal income.

Archeological site in Canyons of the Ancients. Photo courtesy of BLM flickr.

From four people who value our public lands, here’s why you should care about Canyons of the Ancients (and should consider visiting it, too!):

MB McAfee, Lewis, CO

“I was born and raised in Cortez,” MB told me. “The area that is now Canyons of the Ancients was an area where we went hiking. McElmo Canyon that forms the southern boundary of the monument is called the ‘Banana Belt of Montezuma County’ because it has a warmer climate than the plateaus around it and it’s a place we picked apples and roamed in the canyons and found streams to fish in.”

She explained that, back in the 1940s and 1950s when she grew up in the area, the ancient archeology of the area wasn’t yet recognized. “As the years went by, it was discovered that there was indeed a treasure trove of archeological sites there.”

MB and her husband Chuck spent 32 years living in Loveland, Colorado, before returning to Cortez. Canyons of the Ancients, she says, “has been one part of the physical landscape and tapestry of my life…It’s a place where I went as a kid, and where I took my kids when they were little. Now that it’s revered as a monument, it’s kind of a blessing that the land I like down there — the sage, juniper, pinyon, canyon county — is now actually protected.”

She explained that when Canyons of the Ancients became a national monument in 2000, there were some locals who were opposed to it. People felt as though land that belonged to them was taken away. But not much changed in the ways people were able to use the land. MB said, “If people want to ride their ATVs there are trails they can ride, people can still graze their cattle…none of that changed when the monument was made.”

In fact, her husband was on the planning commission that made the first management plan for the national monument. “It was a large citizens group that included ranchers and farmers and water people too. It had to be a broad cross section of people who might use or be affected by the creation of the monument.”

Tom McNamara, Fruita, CO

Tom had just returned from a trip down the Grand Canyon when we spoke. He said his love for public lands goes back to when he was a kid growing up in Wisconsin. “My dad took me hunting a lot as a kid,” he explained, “So I would go out and sit in the woods and enjoy that of and by itself, without any frills or bells or anything.”

Tom, with wife Carrie, exploring public lands. Image courtesy of Tom McNamara.

“We moved out here almost 20 years ago,” he told me. From visiting the Canyons of the Ancients area, he remembers “absolutely extraordinary views, nothing like it.”

More recently, he visited Bears Ears National Monument, the newly designated area in Utah that is facing the most scrutiny of all the national monuments. As the crow flies, Bears Ears is only 30 miles from Canyons of the Ancients, and the two areas share a similar ancient history.

“We go [to the Bears Ears area] at least once a year, just because it is so unique, so different. You have a…spiritual experience, because you know people lived there so long ago. If it were trampled, or overused, the experience would be far different. It’s a prime area for anyone who wants to get away, to be among historic places, and to enjoy the quietude.”

“Does it need protection? Absolutely, we need to protect as much area as we possibly can. To go back to the Boundary Waters [of Minnesota, an area remembered from his childhood], it’s better today than it was fifty years ago. The fishing is still absolutely fabulous, and the experience overall is far better than it was because there are so many people who fought hard to preserve it. All of that is now sacrosanct because of a few people who were intelligent enough to protect that area.”

Annelise Loevlie, Golden, CO

Annelise is the CEO of Icelantic Skis. The following is adapted from her written comment to Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke.

Annelise, in a photo from The Denver Post, 2013.

“Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, like these canyons I was formed and revealed by the wild, subtle and unrelenting forces of nature. My language and knowledge of the world comes in large part from early conversations with rocks, trees, clouds and deer. And it is through these interactions that I, like countless others, found myself. This, in my opinion, is one of the most valuable things a person can find, and a nation can ask for.”

“Why do these places exist? These Monuments exist because at some point, people were touched so deeply by them that they were declared sacred and voices called that they be forever protected by our national government.

“Numbers often speak louder than words, so I’ll explore what these places are worth. $887 billion is the number of dollars directly contributed to our national economy each year from the outdoor recreation industry. Here in Colorado, which is quickly becoming an industry leader, we are experiencing one of the more intense migrations I’ve ever seen. Droves of people are flocking to this state in search of those experiences and lessons I was lucky enough to grow up with.

“The value of a lunchtime bike ride is outweighing a venture-backed Silicon Valley salary. My peers are paying far more for new bikes than for cars and are craving time in wild places that provide freedom and inspiration. Subtle shifts such as these are all contributing to this striking number, an economy as large as the auto and pharmaceutical industries combined, employing more than computer technology, construction, or finance.

“I’m no expert on public policy, land management, or assessing economic value. However, I know that the more people come alive, the more prosperous we will be, and these places inspire life. These are not just plots of land. They are treasure troves of wisdom, freedom, inspiration and solace — and they must be protected.”

Gordon Bosworth, Boulder, UT

Gordon is a ranger who spent time working in Canyons of the Ancients. His home is on the border of Grand Staircase National Monument in Utah. The following is adapted from his written comment to the Department of Interior on protecting these national monuments.

“My ‘on the ground’ knowledge of both monuments is extensive. I have been a ranger for the BLM for five years and USFS for 24 seasons.

Visitors at the Escalante Pueblo in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.

“[For] Canyons of the Ancients, [we should] keep the current protection and administration of the monument — leave as is! It is a very big financial asset to the surrounding towns of Cortez, Mancos, Dolores, and Monticello, and the [Southern] Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Navajo nations. It is a very important protected piece of America.

“If the monument is minimized the damage to archeology and the understanding of our paleo past will be impossible to recreate. Tourism is a long-term plan for this area and it is what’s sustainable, not resource extraction.

“This monument is a museum, with new discoveries all the time. The uniqueness of this monument cannot be rebuilt if damaged by non-compatible resource-intensive industries.”

As these four people, and thousands more, can attest, protecting Canyons of the Ancients — and all of our national monuments — is the right thing to do. We must join together to stand up for our public lands, to keep them for future generations.

Cover photo: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, photo by Bob Wick, BLM.