Colorado’s Public Lands Day Bill Recognizes the Value of the Outdoors

Outdoor Alliance and Outdoor Industry Association commend Colorado’s landmark Public Lands Day Bill

By Cailin O'Brien-Feeney May 17, 2016

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has signed into law Colorado’s Public Lands Day bill, which will establish the third Saturday in May as a holiday to celebrate the state’s public land. The bill’s summary states that it intends to recognize “the significant contributions that national, state and local public lands within Colorado make to wildlife, recreation, the economy and to Coloradans’ quality of life.”

The Public Lands Day bill is the first of its kind, and it repudiates recent efforts in Colorado and across the West to seize, privatize, or sell off public lands.

“Public lands are a priceless component of our Colorado identity, and it’s heartening to see our elected representatives recognizing how important public lands are to Colorado’s way of life,” said Nathan Fey, director of Colorado’s River Stewardship Program and member of Outdoor Alliance Colorado, a regional coalition of outdoor recreation advocacy groups in the state.

In Colorado, outdoor recreation generates $13.2 billion in consumer spending, supporting 125,000 jobs. “A poll we released last fall showed that more than 80 percent of Coloradans believe public lands have a positive impact on our quality of life, our economy, and opportunities for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation in our state,” said Cailin O’Brien-Feeney, local recreation advocacy manager for Outdoor Industry Association. “It’s great to see our elected officials honor those widely held sentiments by creating a day to celebrate our rich public lands heritage.”

Outdoor Alliance Colorado Responds to the Signing of the Public Lands Day Bill

“Public lands are a priceless component of our Colorado identity, and it’s heartening to see our elected representatives recognizing how important public lands are to Colorado’s way of life.” —Nathan Fey, director of Colorado’s River Stewardship Program, which is a member of Outdoor Alliance Colorado, a regional coalition of outdoor recreation advocacy groups in the state.

“Colorado has some of the most inspiring public lands in the U.S., and the state has been a leader in protecting and celebrating outdoor experiences. The Public Lands Day bill is a clear sign that Colorado values and wants to safeguard its incredible natural resources.” —Maria Millard, policy director for the American Alpine Club, which is a member of Outdoor Alliance Colorado.

“Members of Colorado Mountain Club rely on access to Colorado’s vast and spectacular public lands system to climb, hike, ski, camp, and explore. With many states in the West participating in the efforts to seize and sell off public lands, it’s heartening to see Colorado leading the charge in recognizing and celebrating what public lands mean to Coloradans.”—Julie Mach, conservation director at Colorado Mountain Club, which is a member of Outdoor Alliance Colorado. 

“Outdoor Alliance Colorado is grateful for the bill’s sponsors and the hard work of many supporters to ensure the passage of this legislation.” —Jason Bertolacci, Colorado and Wyoming region director for International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Advocates for public lands and outdoor recreation in the state commended the bill.

“In our evolution as a state that is focused on outdoor recreation and the industry it supports, now more than ever it is important to both celebrate our public lands and continue to foster a deep sense of stewardship for these lands into every Coloradan. I couldn’t be prouder that Colorado is the first state in the country to recognize the value of celebrating these lands and all that they offer us.” Luis Benitez, Director Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office 

“At Western Rise, we are constantly inspired by the public lands of Colorado.  We rely on the vast system of public lands for hiking, biking, fishing, climbing, skiing and camping. From the stark peaks of the San Juans, to the flowing waters of the Colorado, every piece we create is inspired by and tested in the beautiful public lands. We are overjoyed to see that Colorado is leading the charge in protecting these public lands, and hope to continue to be an example for the future.” —Will Watters, Founder, Western Rise

Outdoor Industry Association Responds to the Signing of the Public Lands Day Bill

“I am a 40-year veteran of the Outdoor Industry and a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and activist in environmental and conservation issues. I am also a fourth-generation Coloradan. I enthusiastically support Governor Hickenlooper’s signing the Colorado Public Lands Day bill. Our national and human heritage span many arenas of activity including culture, history, people, technology and more. But none are so precious and enduring as the land on which we live, work, recreate and take sustenance. Colorado’s public lands support economies, wildlife habitat, recreation and are a primary source of connection to our lives.” —Geoff O’Keeffe, founder & partner, New Normal Consulting, LLC.

“We here at Salewa North America (Salewa, Dynafit, Wild Country and Pomoca) strongly urge government leadership to protect our public lands. Coloradans and visitors should have access to hike, bike, ski, camp and enjoy all that our great state has to offer, without threat of development and other issues that privatization creates.  Colorado is special because of its access to the outdoors and public spaces and Coloradans lead healthier, more fulfilling lives as a result.  Furthermore, these spaces draw countless visitors, keeping our economy strong throughout the state.” — Steve Kropf, sales and marketing director, Salewa North America

“Public lands play such an important role in recreation close to our home base in Steamboat Springs and throughout the state, so it’s impressive to see this bill signed into law. For our customers and staff, the outdoors serve as proving grounds for our products, and we wouldn’t be based in Colorado if there weren’t so many places to camp and get after it in the mountains.”—Bill Gamber, president and co-founder of Big Agnes

“We’re based in Golden because we can easily access the trails and ride every day. Some of the best and closest trails to our headquarters are on public land, and having that sort of access not only helps keep great employees, it gives our customers great places to ride and helps spur innovation.”Yeti Cycles President, Chris Conroy

“SRAM has over 120 employees in Colorado Springs, and part of our equation in deciding to operate here is access to the outdoors. We’re happy to celebrate public lands because they support that access, which is core both to our company values and the Colorado way of life.” —Jason West, VP of aftermarket at SRAM

“Public lands are the lifeblood of many important outdoor industries including the bike industry. It’s not just the Colorado brand, it is our livelihood and inherent to our bike business climate. The bicycle industry and bicycle tourism related businesses are big in Colorado with 170 suppliers, 533 bike retailers, and 70 related bike businesses, our public lands fuel this important economy.”—Jenn Dice, PeopleForBikes VP of business network and Great Outdoors Colorado Board Member 

“Point6 strongly supports the preservation of Colorado public lands and open spaces and opposes the sale or transfer of any land into private hands. Our wild spaces and natural settings create beauty and serenity that is treasured by young and old alike. Tourists and business support Colorado specifically to enjoy its abundant natural settings and fantastic quality of life.   Point6 believes that our public lands need to be fiercely protected and expand in size whenever possible for the enjoyment of generations to come.” —Peter Duke, founder and CEO of Point6 Socks