Polis Ideas on Public Lands Policy

Public Lands in Colorado

The first thing I noticed about Polis’s public lands policy was that I found it under a tab called “Environment” but the actual link was called https://polisforcolorado.com/keep-co-wild/, as in “keep Colorado wild.” Most of the suggestions were about actually about “public lands”. They included supporting federal funding for LWCF and non-game species, but some were related to the State, including funding for state agencies, wildlife crossings and changes to bear policies.

Create Colorado Conservation and Recreation Districts
Colorado is home to 42 state parks and 13 National Parks which welcome millions of visitors per year. I will create Colorado Conservation and Recreation Districts that harness the economic power of these landscapes to highlight Colorado’s natural outdoor assets and promote each community’s unique attractions. Through a coordinated effort alongside conservationists, sportsmen and sportswomen, and the outdoor recreation industry, we will provide educational opportunities and access to grant funding to support conservation and recreational entrepreneurship. Housed under the shared jurisdiction of the Office of Economic Development and Colorado Parks & Wildlife, this program will help more Coloradans forge a special connection with our natural resources, further strengthening the Colorado economy.

This seems good, like “working together better”, except it seems like more small businesses (entrepreneurship) but the National Forests and BLM seem conspicuously absent. And yet, driving around Colorado in the summertime, most recreationists I see are indeed recreating on National Forests or BLM. I wrote the Polis campaign and asked if National Forests and BLM were left out intentionally, but have not yet heard back. But do Coloradans need “special help”? connecting with our outdoors? Do we need to promote more recreation businesses? Or will more recreation businesses mean more recreation and more impacts on the environment? Why is using State funds to support an industry (other than environmental cleanup) in the “environmental policy” section?

Oppose Selling Our Public Lands to the Highest Bidders
As governor, I will fight any attempt to sell our public lands to the highest bidder or diminish them in any way. Nearly a third of our state is made up of public lands, and these lands belong to all Coloradans, no matter their background, zip code, race, or income. Our public lands, clean air, and rivers are critical to protecting our fish and wildlife habitat, providing the public with places to hunt and fish, ski, climb, bike, raft, and enjoy the Colorado outdoor experience. The activities are foundational to Colorado’s recreation economy, providing good-paying jobs for thousands of Coloradans and attracting national attention through events like the Outdoor Retailer trade show. Thoughtful and effective conservation of these resources is paramount in supporting Colorado’s strong outdoor economy and way of life.

As we know, no one is planning to sell off federal lands. Perhaps someone was planning to sell off state lands? According to Ballotpedia, 35.9% of Colorado is federal land, which would mean if you add State and County land, it’s got to be more than a third for total “public land”, the way I would define it. I couldn’t easily find the total acres of State land in Colorado. Some of it is in State Parks, and much is owned by the State Land Board, which appears to have minerals and agricultural leases. I wonder if those leases are defined as “diminishing public lands in any way”? Are those kind of leases appropriate to State lands but not Federal? And where do state and federal statutes fit into this?

Ensure Colorado Has a Voice in Federal Decisions on its Public Lands
Coloradans understand in our core that public lands have value far beyond industrial development. As governor, I will work to ensure that our public lands are protected from overzealous development and that every Coloradan has every opportunity to have their voices heard in these decisions that affect the future of these lands. Colorado deserves a strong seat at the table here and in D.C. when it comes to conversations about what happens to the land, wildlife, trails, and resources in our backyards.

Hmmm. Industrial development on public lands. I don’t know exactly what he means by “overzealous development” (we have underground coal mines, oil and gas, so perhaps it’s code for oil and gas?) But wind and solar farms also look pretty industrial, and in the Energy section we reviewed yesterday here, he said he would help reduce red tape on those. I guess that would be “zealous” development.

But this one is particularly interesting in light of our discussion last week about “everyone in the country having an equal voice in Federal lands.” I agree that “Colorado deserves a strong seat at the table here and in D.C…about what happens.. in our backyards?” But I wonder if he feels the same way about Utah?

2 thoughts on “Polis Ideas on Public Lands Policy”

  1. For large portions of the donor class, public lands means mountain biking. Hickenlooper was real big on it, so is Polis. Mountain biking means trail development, and bike sales, and restaurants, hotels, income. Google doesn’t transfer employees here because of the bird watching or hunting.

    I’d be happy if all bear issues were turned over to some committee Polis forms. Every time I see photos in the paper of 5 sworn Wildlife Officers holding a blanket for some overpopulated and fed bear in Boulder to fall into I wonder how many elk licenses it takes to pay for that bear. Big on feral horses too.

  2. What it says is ..
    “Protect Our Bears and Wild Horses
    This past year had one of the highest number of human-bear conflict incidents in recent history. Our changing climate has altered feeding cycles and has led to a rising number of bears wandering into cities and towns in search of trash or alternative sources of food. Unfortunately, this too often results in CPW having to kill bears to prevent any danger to the community. As governor, I will sign an executive order requesting that CPW evaluate alternative methods to mitigate human-bear conflicts. This will include developing and executing a marketing plan that educates Coloradans in how to prevent luring bears into towns. CPW will then study the results of these efforts to ensure we are making progress in reducing human-bear encounters. I will also seek to preserve Colorado’s historic wild horse herds, and oppose inhumane methods of population control, like confinement and castration, in favor of more humane methods to maintain a healthy population.”

    When I was at the Retiree’s Meeting in Asheville NC, I was on a field trip to a chestnut plantation.. and the owner told us about a bear breaking into his truck. Many states seem to have the same issues across the country and I’m sure they exchange info.


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