Jean White: Gardner supports Colorado’s outdoor heritage
Colorado’s outdoors are woven into the fabric of its character as much as the ranch hand or the fly rod itself. Over the past five decades one program has done more for our outdoors than any other, the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
I commend Senator Cory Gardner’s continued effort to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the program by cosponsoring S.B. 569 and signing the bi-partisan senators letter encouraging leadership to take a vote in support of the fund.
LWCF has played a critical role in conserving and enhancing our public lands, water, working farms and ranches and our outdoor recreation economy. The program is funded by a portion of federal offshore energy revenues and channels those monies to states at no cost to taxpayers.
Unfortunately, funding for this more than 50-year program runs out this weekend. Congress plans to vote to reauthorize it next week.
LCWF has provided funding to help conserve and enhance some of Colorado’s best lands by establishing recreational access for hunting, fishing and offering compensation for conservation easements allowing family farms and ranches to continue operation.
Colorado has received approximately $268 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, helping to improve places like Elkhead and Steamboat lakes and providing funding for Howelsen Hill and parks in Oak Creek and Hayden.
However, it is not just our land, water and wildlife that benefit from LWCF. The landscapes that LWCF conserves and enhances is also integral to the culture and recreation economies of Routt County. The program is a vital component of job creation and economic development as well, benefiting working farms and ranches, while supporting the public land infrastructure that our guides and outfitters depend on.
A recent report from the Outdoor Industry Association has found that active recreation generates $28 billion in consumer spending in Colorado and 229,000 jobs that generate $9.7 billion in wages and salaries and produces $2 billion annually in state and local tax revenue. Further, the U.S. Census reports that each year over 2.2 million people hunt, fish or enjoy wildlife watching in Colorado, contributing $3 billion in wildlife recreation spending to the state economy.
I commend Sen. Gardner for his effort to protect the areas that make Colorado what it is, and I hope he will continue his leadership with his colleagues in the Senate to ensure future investments in our land, water, agriculture operations, and outdoor recreation economy.
Former State Senator Jean White
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