@JaredPolis talks recreation districts

Colorado Capitol building

From The Montrose Press (Andrew Kiser):

“We want to make sure our great outdoor recreation opportunities are even better for Coloradans,” Polis said. “I think by focusing on it we can do that and create good jobs as well as in the outdoor recreation industry.”

One of the aspects of the plan includes the establishment of the Colorado conservation and recreation districts. By creating such regions, lesser-known locations in the state can be discovered by tourists, he noted.

“We can help get more people to some of our great sights in Colorado,” Polis said. “That way it can ease congestion in some of the most traveled to areas and it can highlight some of the other areas in our state that have great potential through conservation and recreation districts.

“I think a lot of local communities in western Colorado will take advantage of becoming conservation and recreation districts to really help put themselves on the map to create good jobs.”

It’s not just the sights that are crucial to visitors of the state, but also the recreational activities available in Colorado, he said. Polis noted his quality-of-life goal for residents is for people to continue with outdoor interests like biking, hiking, hunting and fishing.

“Those are all the reasons why we are so proud and excited to be Coloradans,” Polis said. “We really rely on having access to great wild areas in open spaces.”

Those considerable landscapes are also key features for people interested in discovering outdoor activities in Colorado, he added.

“It’s an important part of filling our restaurants, hotels and retail stores,” Polis said. “So, it’s an important job creator in our state as we can attract people from other areas of the country for skiing, hunting, fishing or hiking.”

He added to keep such pursuits viable means to improve funding for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. With 80 percent of CPW revenue coming from users fees, Polis said he does not desire to have outdoor enthusiasts pay for most of it.

“We want to make sure the full burden of maintaining trails and our public lands doesn’t fall on anglers and hunters,” Polis said.

A way to potentially work on that is by creating a commission filled with people from the recreation side, hunters and environmental experts, he noted.

Additionally, the representative said he means to make sure the CPW and the Conservation and Great Outdoors Colorado trust funds are financed. Polis said it’s vital for GOCO to remain intact as it’s been invaluable for creating work.

“It’s really important to secure funding for Great Outdoors Colorado,” Polis said, adding such grants support over 11,000 jobs and provide millions of dollars in economic activity for the state.

It also has helped with financing locally.

The Montrose Recreation District has received numerous grants from GOCO. One of the more recent ones came in September 2017 when the City of Montrose and MRD’s $2 million grant application for trail connections was approved by the organization.

Jason Ullmann, MRD Board vice president and current acting president, said if it wasn’t for one of those grants in the past the Community Recreation Center wouldn’t have its amenities outside of the facility.

“With many of those outdoor facilities, we wouldn’t have built Phase 2, which includes the trials and pickleball courts. We wouldn’t have those without GOCO,” Ullmann said. “So the rec center was made much better with those grant dollars.”

Part of Polis’ plan is to make sure the ecosystem is still intact. He explained many organisms are on the Endangered Species list, which can lead to a snowball effect if they become wiped out.

“With certain species that become extinct it’s not just them that are affected,” Polis said. “It can lead to overpopulation of other species, it can throw entire ecosystems out of whack, it can ruin the outdoor experience for hunters or anglers, so it’s very important to help maintain healthy ecosystems.”

He added going forward he wants to preserve the outdoor way of life for future generations of Coloradans.

“We need to make sure we are protecting our environment and that we leave a legacy for our kids and grandkids in the same great state we live in,” Polis said.

What about water?

Polis said he supports Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado Water Plan, and if elected, he will implement it.

“We want to make sure we have a collaborative approach to transmountain diversion. That we can make sure that our Western Colorado communities aren’t forced to pay the price for Front Range growth,” Polis said. “We want to make sure people across our whole state have access to high-quality water for the quantities we need for agricultural, as well as residents.”

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