By John Hickenlooper
May 27, 2020
Social distancing has given Coloradans one more reason to value our treasured public lands. The great outdoors have provided solace in a time of crisis and community in a time of distance. Even those of us on the Front Range know that when it’s safe, Colorado’s majestic peaks and over 39,000 miles of trail will be there to welcome us.
Unfortunately, the Republican-led U.S. Senate has been reluctant to protect our public lands and left new protections for Colorado wilderness out of the last major public lands bill to become law. The House of Representatives, meanwhile, took bold action by passing the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act — under the leadership of Rep. Joe Neguse — last fall.
The CORE Act would protect 400,000 acres of Colorado’s public lands, including the Thompson Divide and Camp Hale. As governor, I created the Colorado Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, which found that the outdoor industry generates 511,000 jobs and contributes $62 billion to Colorado’s economy. Many of those jobs are now in limbo, but bolstering our mountain economy is a key piece of the CORE Act — “economy” is even in its name.
This is the type of bold proposal we need to rebuild our outdoor economy and mountain communities so that they are stronger than ever. Hundreds of local leaders have worked on the CORE Act — some for over a decade. Ranchers, small business owners, and commissioners from counties encompassed in the bill support the collaborative plan. But the CORE Act won’t pass the Republican-led Senate without the support of Sen. Cory Gardner — and he has refused to lift a finger.
Instead, Sen. Gardner has voted repeatedly to confirm President Trump’s anti-environment nominees. These Gardner-approved officials have overseen the largest rollback of protected public lands in American history.
So it is no surprise that Gardner and Trump, who dismissed early warnings about COVID-19, are ignoring another looming threat that is already devastating Colorado’s public lands: climate change.
Read the full column HERE.