The places where we hunt and fish are under attack from legislative efforts to transfer ownership of Colorado’s public lands to the state and private players. This change in ownership would mean more than just a new name on paperwork but a fundamental shift in our Western way of life.
That’s why I will be joining sportsmen, business owners and veterans from throughout Colorado to gather on the Capitol steps next week with one clear message to legislators: keep public lands in public hands
A recent Colorado College poll on attitudes of Western voters reaffirmed our love for the outdoors. Ninety-six percent of voters surveyed visited public lands managed by U.S. agencies in the last year and 84 percent said access to public lands was a key factor for living in the West.
But if proponents of a public lands transfer are successful, that access may be replaced with a “no trespassing” sign. Hiking, fishing and hunting are integral to Colorado life and it’s hard to imagine living here without access. Yet it is possible that if public lands are transferred, they could eventually be auctioned off to the highest bidder for personal use or to corporations for use of their natural resources. When polled, 68 percent of Coloradans supported the continued protection of natural areas and habitat from new development.
Not only are these lands at the heart of Colorado life, they’re also at the heart of our economy. Colorado’s outdoor industry-which relies on access to public lands-generates $13 billion and 124,000 jobs for Colorado annually. Our rivers and parks belong not just to Coloradans, but all Americans. And as treasured American places, it’s only fair for all Americans to chip in to ensure the conservation, protection and management of public lands and the wildlife.
If these lands were transferred from federal to state control, the state would have to pay for managing the lands and would be on the hook for emergencies beyond our control. Land transfers would add further strain to an already stretched budget. A single wildfire can cost $100 million to fight. That expense, along with many others, would be the responsibility of Colorado’s taxpayers.
If you hunt, fish, or recreate on public lands, come and join me along with other sportsmen on Wednesday, February 25th, at noon on the west steps of the State Capitol to rally for our public lands!
Also, afterwards join Trout Unlimited, Colorado Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and sportsmen and women from across Colorado at Stoney's Bar & Grill from 2:00 for hosted early happy hour (11th and Lincoln, Denver).
We hope to see you there!
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