Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4236

Relocation Puts Spotlight on Colorado’s Progressive Public Lands Policies

The Outdoor Retailer Show and its partners today announced that Denver has been chosen as the new home for the $45 million biannual gathering. While the decision was based on multiple factors, the outdoor industry noted in a February press release announcing solicitations for new show venues that one of the most vital factors was whether the location “upholds [the outdoor] industry’s core values around the importance of America’s public lands system.”

“This announcement establishes Colorado as the national home of the fast-growing outdoor recreation industry,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “We are thrilled to host the Outdoor Retailer Show and use the opportunity to show off our epic public lands, our forward-thinking conservation policies, and the $28 billion contribution that outdoor recreation makes to our state’s economy. There’s no better place than Colorado for the outdoor recreation industry to convene twice a year. We thank Governor Hickenlooper, Mayor Hancock, Luis Benitez of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, and other leaders who stepped up for our lands and our state’s economy.”

In February 2017, when industry leaders announced that they were moving the show out of Utah due to the extreme anti-public lands stances of the state’s elected officials, Colorado launched an aggressive campaign to lure the show to Denver. One aspect of this campaign was advertisements that Conservation Colorado ran in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News (seen to the right), communicating to the outdoor industry that Colorado has stronger beer, taller peaks, and higher recreation, but most importantly, a love for public lands.

 

“Today’s announcement confirms that the embrace of public lands is a winning combination for Colorado’s economy and way of life,” said Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado and member of Colorado’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry Advisory Council. “It is also a repudiation of extreme and short-sighted efforts by some politicians to seize and sell off our lands. While we hope that politicians in Utah have learned a lesson, unfortunately the desire to privatize or strip protections for our public lands has seeped into leadership in Washington, D.C. Politicians across the nation must know that public lands are critical infrastructure to our success and quality of life, and that any attempt to undo protections for them will be met with fierce resistance.”

Colorado has a storied history of investing in and protecting national, state, and local parks, monuments, forests, and other public lands. For example:

  • Colorado has 24 million acres of national public lands including four national parks, eight national monuments, and 44 wilderness areas.
  • Colorado was the first state in the nation to establish a state holiday day to celebrate public lands. The first-ever Colorado Public Lands Day was celebrated this May with more than 100 events and thousands of participants.
  • State legislators resoundingly defeated all eight attempts to pass land seizure bills in over the last five years.
  • In 1992, Colorado citizens passed a ballot initiative to send some lottery revenues to fund outdoors programs in the state. “Great Outdoors Colorado” has become a model for conservation funding across the nation.

The Trump administration has launched several attacks on Colorado’s public lands. These include:

  • Threatening to roll back protections for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument near Cortez.
  • Suspending public lands advisory councils.
  • Proposing to significantly slash the budget for managing our public lands.

Written by Audrey Wheeler

A year ago, we reported on the West Elk Coal Mine, a highly contested mine in Colorado’s Gunnison National Forest. At that time, we and many other Coloradans were concerned about Arch Coal’s proposal to expand its coal mine, which would destroy 1,720 acres of forest.

Now, those concerns have become reality. Just two weeks ago, the Trump administration’s Forest Service announced that it is forging ahead with a plan to allow the company to expand the mine. If approved, this decision will cause irreparable harm on the national forest in more ways than one.

To take a step back, the West Elk coal mine is located in western Colorado, north of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It’s an extremely controversial mine for a variety of reasons, including its location inside a roadless area of a national forest, its exemption from a new moratorium on coal leasing, and the fact that it is owned by formerly bankrupt company Arch Coal. But perhaps the most disturbing issue is the air pollution that it already causes, which would increase if the mine expands.

Mount Gunnison towering over the Sunset Roadless Area. The aspen forests on the right would be damaged by the mine expansion. Photo by Ted Zukoski of Earthjustice.

The West Elk mine has already been the single largest source of methane pollution in Colorado, spewing 58,000 tons of methane into the air every year. Methane — an immensely potent greenhouse gas — has more than 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide, and is a major contributor to climate pollution.

Although Colorado has some of the strongest rules in the nation for methane pollution from oil and gas activity, as the Colorado Independent reports, “Unlike methane from oil and gas drilling, coal mine methane remains unregulated at both state and federal levels.” The proposed expansion to the coal mine could mean emitting enough methane to negate half of the emissions prevented by Colorado’s methane rules for oil and gas.

Plus, under Arch Coal’s plan, more than six miles of forest will be bulldozed for roads and up to 48 drilling pads will be built in the Sunset Roadless Area, which connects to the West Elk Wilderness. The area is a rolling landscape of aspen and spruce-fir forests that provide habitat for native black bear, elk, lynx, and cutthroat trout.

The actions by the Trump administration to move forward with this mine expansion are even more disturbing because of how they deal with the impacts of government projects on climate change. Previously, government environmental reviews like this had to take into account the impact of the project on climate change. Now, the Forest Service claims that calculating climate impacts is not an “appropriate tool at the project level” and is “no longer representative of governmental policy.” This comes out of a Trump executive order that disbanded the agency working group associated with it.

Hikers in the Sunset Roadless area near the West Elk mine. Photo by Ted Zukoski of Earthjustice.

The Forest Service wants to give Arch Coal access to more than 17 million tons of coal — but at what cost? The West Elk Mine already has over a decade of coal in reserve, and this decision not only ignores the economic realities that face the coal industry, but it generates even more greenhouse gas emissions, further exacerbating climate change. Coal has been central to the local economy in this area for generation, but this coal mine expansion is a bad idea for the forest and for our climate.

The negative consequences of expanding the West Elk Coal Mine and the damage it would cause to our national forest are obvious. The U.S. Forest Service is asking the public to weigh in on this problematic West Elk Coal Mine expansion. Take action today to send a message to the administration that we value our public lands too much to watch them be destroyed. Follow this link to sign a petition to the Forest Service.

This one decision could destroy aspen groves, displace native wildlife, and vent methane pollution into our air. It’s a sign of what to expect under the Trump administration in terms of our public lands — and it’s up to us to stop it.

Cover image: The West Elk Mine. Image from WildEarth Guardians flickr.

Written by Audrey Wheeler

The first-ever Colorado Public Lands Day was celebrated this weekend with 137 events across the state. This new holiday is the first of its kind for any state in the nation, and was created by our Colorado legislature in 2016 to occur on the third Saturday of May each year.

This year, events ranged from volunteering to bicycling to hiking to drinking beer. Volunteers came together to restore trails, plant native species, and clean up our wild places. Ten breweries jumped on board with limited-edition craft brews to honor public lands.

Some big names were involved in the festivities. Colorado-based band Elephant Revival hosted a trail cleanup event, played an acoustic set at a Colorado Public Lands Day event, and gave a shoutout to our public lands from the stage at the Red Rocks music venue on Sunday.

The band, which has made a bold commitment to protecting public lands, was the “official sound” of the holiday this year. U.S.  and Conservation Colorado Executive Director  got onstage at their Red Rocks show to urge the audience to protect public lands. Senator Bennet urged the audience to celebrate and protect our public lands because “our work is not done.” Hundreds of people took action with Conservation Colorado to support our national monuments.

In addition, many other Colorado politicians came out to celebrate the holiday. Governor Hickenlooper spoke about public lands protection to a packed street at the Grand Junction Epic Rides Fest. U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter, who represents the Golden area, commented that “In Colorado, public lands are part of our DNA,” when he spoke on stage at one of our marquee events the American Mountaineering Center in Golden.

The holiday was established in large part due to the efforts of state Senator . Donovan said of the holiday, “Since we passed it, there have been some very real challenges and political discussion around the threat against public lands staying public. I think it has a new significance, showing how important it is that our public lands stay public and accessible to all.”

It’s true that this holiday could not have come at a better time. Right now, the attacks on our public lands are all too real, from a “review” of 27 treasured National Monuments to halting the work of over 200 advisory boards for the Department of the Interior. Fortunately, the inaugural Colorado Public Lands Day proved that Coloradans are ready to stand up for their public lands.

In all, the holiday was an enormous success for celebrating and honoring our public lands. The widespread participation in Colorado Public Lands Day is proof of Coloradans’ affinity for protecting our public lands. We can’t wait to celebrate next year!

Cover image: Celebration for Colorado Public Lands Day at a brewery. Anna Peterson.

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.

Written by Gabe Kiritz, Public Lands Business Organizer

There have been several recent attacks from Washington, D.C. on Colorado’s public lands and waters. Just this week, the Trump administration issued an executive order that will begin a process to “review” the 30 national monuments created since 1996 that are larger than 100,000 acres, which could result in Colorado’s iconic Canyons of the Ancients national monument being shrunk or losing it’s protections entirely.

Additionally, the Trump administration’s proposed budget threatens harmful cuts to our nation’s public lands and environment. The Department of Interior, which manages our national parks, national wildlife refuges, other public lands, is facing a massive 12 percent cut that would have major impacts on conservation and our recreation economy.

These public lands support diverse economic interests, including an outdoor recreation economy that’s estimated to be as large as the auto industry and pharmaceutical industry combined, at $887 billion. According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2017 Outdoor Recreation Economy Report, outdoor recreation employs more Americans than construction, computer technology, or education. Cutting funds for our public lands damages the communities that depend on tourism and outdoor recreation, the wildlife living on those lands, and the health and well-being of Americans who explore our nation’s wild places.

That’s why Colorado businesses have decided to stand up and speak out. In fact, 98 businesses just signed on to a letter with the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance calling for Senator Cory Gardner to defend and protect Colorado’s public lands. Here’s an excerpt from their letter, and you can read the full text here:

“Colorado’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and monuments are essential to our industries, way of life, and bottom lines. COBA members are united to conserve and protect access to our public lands and sustain our state’s economy….

We now urge you to support our economic interests by advancing meaningful public lands protections and defending our national public lands from any and all legislative attacks…”

The companies that signed this letter are outdoor recreation manufacturers, retailers, guides, and outfitters, alongside ranches, marketing firms, tech companies, and startups, depend on public lands for their way of life and to attract employees. They make Colorado a thriving place to do business.

With this letter in hand, seven Colorado business leaders flew to Washington, D.C. on March 27th, 2017 to meet with staff from Senator Michael Bennet, Senator Gardner, and Congressman Scott Tipton’s offices. There, they called for leadership in standing up for Colorado’s public lands. They asked Colorado’s congressional delegation to:

Colorado business leaders in Washington D.C.

The call for leadership has been made — will our representatives respond and protect Colorado’s economy?

The outdoor recreation industry in Colorado has continued to be an important indicator of how much progress Colorado has made on public lands over the last few years. For example, no land seizure bills have passed in the Colorado state legislature, despite almost ten attempts by extremist legislators to do so. These bills would have paved the way for our public lands to be seized by the state and eventually leased or sold off to private interests. Additionally, last year our state legislature established Colorado Public Lands Day, the first state holiday of its kind in the country.

That’s why, when the Outdoor Industry Association announced that it was looking for a new home for its massive Outdoor Retailer show that is friendlier to public lands that Utah, Colorado was in a position to make a strong case that we deserve the show. In fact, Conservation Colorado ran these ads in Utah newspapers making the case for the show to come here:

Senator Gardner claims to stand with Colorado businesses and the outdoor recreation industry. However, his track record thus far this Congress on protecting public lands and air quality, two fundamental pieces of natural infrastructure that sustain a healthy recreation economy and Colorado businesses, does not reflect these values. Senator Gardner must prove he values public lands as much as the support of the outdoor industry. Defending against attacks on our lands and supporting proactive legislation is a good place to start.

As the businesses said in their letter to Senator Gardner: “Our public lands are essential to Colorado’s economy and quality of life. Please uphold the legacy of bipartisan support for protecting public lands that makes us proud to base our businesses in Colorado.”

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting this morning that President Trump is expected to sign an Executive Order on Wednesday that would require a “review” of national parks and monuments that have been protected by presidents using executive action under the Antiquities Act since 1996. This review could result in parks and monuments being shrunk or completely losing protections.

In Colorado, this means that three national monuments are in the crosshairs: Browns Canyon near Salida (designated in 2015), Chimney Rock near Pagosa Springs (designated in 2012), and Canyons of the Ancients near Cortez (designated in 2000).

Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado, made the following statement:

With this review, the Trump administration has launched an attack on Colorado’s heritage and the iconic public lands that are critical to our economy and way of life. The fact that federal bureaucrats are attempting to overturn protections for our lands is deeply offensive to those of us who live in the Colorado and the West.

More details:
– No president has ever attempted to revoke a national monument and legal scholars believe it is illegal.
– Coloradans are strongly supportive of presidents’ abilities to create new national parks and monuments. One poll found that 82 percent of Coloradans believe protections for parks and monuments should be kept in place rather than revoked.
– Regions surrounding national monuments have seen continued growth in employment, personal income, and increased per capita income.
Scott Braden is available for TV, radio, and print interviews today and throughout the week.

Written by Audrey Wheeler

Fourpoints Real Food Energy Bar was started by brothers Kevin Webber and Patrick Webber, and friend Steve Shenfish. All three are second generation Coloradans and avid outdoor enthusiasts. They brought together backgrounds in fitness, nutrition, and culinary arts to develop a true energy bar unlike any other in that fuels you when you need it the most.

More information can be found at www.fourpointsbar.com. 

They’re members of the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance to use their voice as a Colorado outdoor company to protect public lands.

What do you like to do outside?
As Coloradans growing up in Evergreen, an after school mountain bike, or hike was the norm. Our father was our boy scout troop leader growing up. He not only introduced us to mountaineering, hiking, camping, etc., but taught us the principles of outdoor ethics and environmental stewardship. Our outdoor passions include skiing, mountaineering, backpacking, camping, biking and golf. Any excuse really to be outside, but the mountains are our Valhalla!

What do Colorado’s public lands mean to you, and why is it important to you to protect them?
As the world becomes a smaller place, we crave Colorado’s wide open spaces and have an obligation to protect them so that they may be enjoyed now and by future generations. They are what makes Colorado…Colorado, therefore, is worth fighting for.

Tell us about a specific place or time when an outdoor experience had an impact on your professional life or personal outlook.
There are so many, it’s hard to choose just one. Growing up in the mountains teaches you so much on so many different levels, nature has a way of humbling you. I (Patrick) was able to introduce my wife to backpacking for a week on the Colorado trail last summer…that was a life changer for her and us as a couple. You can discover so much about yourself, your partner, and your environment when stripped down to the bare essentials in the wild. As it pertains to business, however, high altitude pursuits fueled the need and design of our flagship product (Fourpoints bar) by solving a problem of nutritional demands for the athletic endeavors of mountain sports.

Why is now an important time to speak up as a member of the business community?
In the current climate, everything is becoming more accessible. Social media, technology, interstate migration, and population influx all contribute to more people using the lands. It is imperative we take the time to share the importance of outdoor ethics and environmental stewardship. Now more than ever, do we need to protect these lands and ensure its future health. As a business, we have a unique platform to get that message out.

How does showing leadership on the values you care about support the success of your business and brand? What call to action would you give to others in the business community?
Our greatest form of success will come when people look at Fourpoints bars as not only a great product, but a dedicated company and brand that pays it forward, supports individual dreams and aspirations while exercising values that protect our lands, environment, and our way of life here in Colorado. As a Colorado outdoor company, we believe it is our duty and privilege to be good stewards of our beautiful backyard and to use that platform to not only educate users but protect and preserve these lands for present and future generations…we encourage like-minded businesses to do the same.

What exciting updates for 2017 would you like to share from the world of Fourpoints Bar?
Fourpoints was featured in February’s issue of SKI Magazine. We recently launched a partnership with ink! Coffee. On the horizon in April is a featured spot in Backpacker Magazine’s Annual Gear Issue and launch in Colorado REI locations.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

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.

The organization will be urging decision-makers in the outdoor industry to choose Colorado as the new location for the show based on the state’s long record of investing in and protecting national parks, monuments, forests, and other public lands.

The campaign will kick off with paid advertisements in the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News touting the assets that Colorado offers when compared to Utah, including stronger beer, taller peaks, “higher” recreation, and, most importantly, a deep commitment to public lands.

“There’s no better place than Colorado when it comes to protection and stewardship of our public lands,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “From embracing our newest national monuments, to being the first state to establish a holiday to celebrate our lands, to soundly defeating eight bills in our state legislature that would have turned our lands over to private interests, we fully recognize the myriad benefits that public lands bring to our state and to the nation.”

The Outdoor Retailer show brings $45 million to Utah in direct spending each year, and its leaders announced last week that they are “exploring location options” beyond Salt Lake City in part due to the state of Utah’s continued antagonism towards and attacks onAmerica’s public lands. The industry recently noted that an important consideration in choosing the new location of the show will be whether it “upholds our industry’s core values around the importance of America’s public lands system.”

In addition to the advertisements, Conservation Colorado’s campaign will also include working with outdoor businesses and tourism associations to make the case for Colorado as the new location for the Outdoor Retailer show, as well as digital media advertising to key decision-makers.

Written by Scott Braden, Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate

They say that one journey can change your life. It happened to me. When I was ten years old, my dad and I drove from my home state of Georgia to Colorado and Utah, where I was immediately taken with the red rocks, swirling sandstone, and contortionist arches that embody the canyon country of the American Southwest. I was hooked, finding my way West again soon after college for a summer job in southern Utah at Outward Bound. The seasonal job turned into something more, and I’ve been making my living as an educator and activist for public lands ever since. In fact, my wife and I recently decided to move from Denver to Western Colorado to live as close as possible to these rivers and canyons.

Last month, President Barack Obama designated Bears Ears National Monument, protecting 1.35 million acres of national public lands in southern Utah’s incomparable canyon country. This effort, a culmination to years of work, was led by Hopi, Ute, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni tribal leaders, and it will protect tens of thousands of sacred cultural and archaeological sites. It will also preserve an incredibly unique landscape on the Colorado Plateau. It’s one of my — and many Coloradans’ — favorite places to explore in the world.

One of the many cultural sites in the Bears Ears area.

President Obama protected Bears Ears using the Antiquities Act, one of the most important conservation tools for the nation. The Antiquities Act has been deployed to create parks and protect some of Colorado’s most exemplary natural treasures, from the Great Sand Dunes to Browns Canyon, and from Chimney Rock to Colorado National Monument. The Act was created in 1906 during the administration of the conservationist president Theodore Roosevelt. It has been used by presidents of both parties to protect over 500 million acres of lands and seas. President Obama has used the Antiquities Act more than any previous president, permanently protecting 568 million acres of land and sea.

Despite these tremendous conservation gains, the Antiquities Act has some enemies. Utah Representative Rob Bishop has vowed to work with the Trump administration to undo protections for Bears Ears and other areas protected by President Obama and President Clinton by the Antiquities Act, including those in Colorado (this would mean rolling back protections for Browns Canyon, Chimney Rock, and Canyons of the Ancients). These efforts to roll back protections are unprecedented, making it unclear if this is even possible.

Bears ears is known for its myriad historical sites, incredible red rock views, unparalleled recreation opportunities, including rock climbing.

Already in the first week of Congress, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and 25 other Republican senators (though thankfully none from Colorado) introduced a bill to gut the Antiquities Act, by requiring the approval of Congress and the state legislature where the monument is proposed. This would effectively halt any new national monuments in the places that need them most — places where Congress has utterly failed to protect public lands and cultural treasures. In Colorado, Browns Canyon National Monument’s designation came after thirty years of bipartisan efforts to protect this landscape through Congress came to naught.

To keep the Bears Ears and other national monuments protected, we must stand up for our public lands and the West’s national parks, monuments, and forests. The Antiquities Act and even public lands themselves face an existential threat. There is an anti-parks and public lands agenda that is moving forward only because it’s backed by big-money interests like oil and gas, mining, and logging. You and I, the citizens who care about these places, are the only ones who can save them.

Western public lands and monuments are symbols of freedom and possibility, what the great writer Wallace Stegner termed “the geography of hope.” They captured my spirit, and I’m forever grateful. They give me hope, and it is my most sincere hope that they will captivate the imagination and inspire generations to come.

A young Scott Braden enjoying a site that would eventually become part of Bears Ears National Monument.

Contact: Jessica Goad, 720-206-4235

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

“We’re feeling positive and optimistic about this year’s session, and look forward to making progress with supporters on both sides of the aisle to protect what we love about Colorado: our way of life,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado. “The election hasn’t changed what we plan to do here, and no matter who’s in charge in Washington, D.C., we must clean up our air, conserve our water, protect our lands, and ensure that every person in Colorado lives in a healthy environment.”

Specifically, Conservation Colorado has four key legislative priorities:

Chart our own path forward and create clean energy jobs.

  • Ensure we have the cleanest air in the nation and a thriving cleantech sector.
  • Help communities in rural Colorado become economically diversified, especially those that have been historically dependent on natural resource extraction.
  • Defend against attacks from the legislature, such as last year’s ill-fated effort to gut the budget of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment or attempts to turn our national public lands over to the state or private interests.

Plan for the future, particularly with regard to transportation and growth.

  • Advocate for investments in public transit, walking, and biking options.
  • Build upon the work the legislature did last year to make Colorado the best state in the nation to buy an electric vehicle. Now we must make sure that we’re the best state in which to drive one.

Protect the health of our children.

  • Ensure that oil and gas infrastructure does not encroach on our communities.
  • Make more progress on clean air and renewable energy, considering that children are one of the most susceptible populations to air pollution.

Incentivize the sustainable use of our resources and work to prevent waste and pollution.

  • Implement policies that help conserve precious water resources.
  • Promote solutions for saving energy.

“Importantly, the anti-conservation, anti-enforcement agenda did not win here in Colorado,” Maysmith continued, “as seen in the fact that pro-environment candidates won down our state ballot. Citizens in our state value a healthy environment and the Colorado way of life, and we will fight to turn those values into real change this session.”