Gail Schwartz: Fighting to protect Colorado’s public lands |

Gail Schwartz: Fighting to protect Colorado’s public lands

I am running for Congress to fight for the values we hold sacred in Southern and Western Colorado — our pure water, our public lands, our family farms and ranches, and our outdoor recreation and tourism.

Having lived on the West Slope for over 40 years and having run and won three challenging races for public office, I strongly identify with the people and values of Southern and Western Colorado.

I have dedicated my life to making Colorado the best possible place to live, work and raise a family. My motto is, “No one will ever work harder to represent you,” and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have attested to that.

Listening to the residents of rural Colorado has always been my priority, as a business executive in the ski industry, as a developer of affordable public housing, as a member of the CU Board of Regents and as a two-term state senator representing diverse communities. The people that I have had the privilege of serving know that I have always stood on their side, not on the side of special corporate interests.

I believe that solutions are often found in the middle. I delivered results in the state senate by reaching across the aisle; 95 percent of the hundreds of bills I carried and passed were bipartisan.

I know that we’ve kept our state extraordinary by protecting and preserving access to public lands for over a century. Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District includes Southern Colorado, the San Luis Valley and the Western Slope. It is our country’s most beautiful Congressional District and having lived and worked in it for over 40 years I understand the extraordinary value of our public lands and wild places.

Three of the four national parks in Colorado are located in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District: Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The 3rd Congressional District also enjoys six national monuments, a national heritage area, approximately 11 million acres of national rorest land and nearly 30 national Wilderness Areas. Colorado also has 42 state parks, along with 350 state wildlife areas, and many acres of locally owned public lands.

Public lands are the backbone of our state’s outdoor recreation economy, which accounts for nearly $35 billion in state economic activity, supporting 350,000 jobs. Our public lands are worth standing up for, and we must not take them for granted given the movement to transfer, sell or lease our public lands in the interest of short-term profit.

To me, and to most of the people I meet on the Western Slope and in Southern Colorado, that’s just unacceptable. Our public lands are our legacy, our economy and our future. We must continue to build one of the strongest economies in the West by maintaining a balanced use of public lands for agricultural grazing, recreation and habitat preservation, along with appropriately located mineral and oil and gas production.

In Congress, I will protect our public lands so they will remain properly managed and in public hands to benefit generations to come. The people of the 3rd Congressional District deserve a strong advocate, and I will fight to deliver the results and solutions we need to address the important issues facing rural Colorado.          

Democrat Gail Schwartz is running for the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

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