Opinion: Conserving our future | SteamboatToday.com

Opinion: Conserving our future

John Hickenlooper and Eric Washburn
For the Steamboat Pilot & Today

Coloradans are fortunate to have millions of acres of private, state and federal lands conserved and managed for the benefit of fish and wildlife and lovers of the outdoors. Our public lands drive Colorado’s multi-billion-dollar outdoor economy and provide a natural playground for us all to enjoy for generations to come.

At a time when nature is under siege and needs our steadfast commitment to conservation and environmental protection, President Trump and Cory Gardner have retreated, rolling back protections for public lands, underfunding key conservation programs, repealing limits on greenhouse gas emissions and ending safeguards for wetlands and water quality. In fact, Cory Gardner has failed to support the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act, which Conservation Colorado has described as the “most significant and broadly supported effort to protect Colorado’s public lands in a generation.”

At risk is not only our fish and wildlife but also the opportunities for Coloradans to recreate in wild places that inspire the human spirit and heal mind and body. Whether it is hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, camping, rafting, skiing or any number of other outdoor activities, being in nature is a key part of Colorado’s way of life.

The historian Stephen Ambrose once noted that, “In the 19th century, we devoted our best minds to exploring nature. In the 20th century, we devoted ourselves to controlling and harnessing it. In the 21st century, we must devote ourselves to restoring it.” Coloradans need a national conservation strategy that is equal to the needs of our planet in the 21st century. 

We support an aggressive conservation agenda that will guide the U.S. Senate and protect Colorado now and forever. 

We must enact the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which was developed by state wildlife agencies and conservation organizations to increase funding to protect rare and endangered species. We also should support the federal Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act and the construction of more wildlife overpasses like we have on Highway 9 between Silverthorne and Kremmling. 

Climate change threatens the future of our fish and wildlife, among its many other harmful impacts on Colorado’s recreation economy. This challenge requires new and greater investments to protect, restore and enhance millions of acres of habitat across vast, unbroken landscapes — an investment we will fight to make.

We cherish our state’s magnificent lakes and streams, and we must redouble our efforts to protect them through measures like the bipartisan National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act.

Coloradans love our fish and wildlife and the opportunities that nature has to offer. We live much of our lives outside in the woods, along mountain trails and alongside our lakes and streams, changing sports with the seasons. Visit nearly any garage in Routt County and see the skis, kayaks, fishing poles, snowshoes, backpacks, tents and other equipment that enables us to pursue our collective passions for the outdoors. 

In the coming years, with the help of conservation-minded citizens across Colorado, we will take the fight to the Senate to conserve both our incredible natural resources and our outdoor lifestyles that depend on them.

John Hickenlooper is the former, two-term governor of Colorado and a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Eric Washburn is a fifth-generation Coloradan and hunter who lives in Steamboat Springs.

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