From email from Colorado Parks & Wildlife (Travis Duncan):
At the 2020 virtual Partners in the Outdoors Conference [June 17, 2020], Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) announced the winners of its annual Partner of the Year Awards.
CPW’s Partner of the Year Awards
CPW presents these awards to those who display outstanding efforts in support of Colorado’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), and CPW’s Strategic Plan.
In the introduction to the virtual awards ceremony, CPW Director Dan Prenzlow said, “The Partner of the Year Awards are presented to those who have displayed outstanding efforts in support of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s mission, our Strategic Plan, our State Wildlife Action Plan, and the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. Each of the organizations honored play an integral role in advancing and balancing outdoor recreation and conservation in Colorado.”
Statewide Partner of the Year:
Children & Nature Network, Natural Leaders Initiative
The Children and Nature Network’s (C&NN) Natural Leaders Initiative has been instrumental in CPW’s ability to build the leadership capacity and engagement of young diverse leaders in Colorado. Through a multi-year partnership, C&NN has served as a strategic partner regarding youth engagement at our Partners in the Outdoors Conference. They have provided professional development and leadership to allow cohorts of youth to connect with professionals in the outdoor and natural resource management industry in meaningful ways.
Through this partnership, we are: building trust, relationships and networks while breaking down identified barriers; utilizing and supporting existing programs including the Colorado Legacy Camp and GOCO’s Generation Wild coalitions; and helping to recruit and retain an outdoor recreation workforce that is diverse and representative of Colorado’s demographics.
The Children and Nature Network also partner closely with Great Outdoors Colorado through the support of the Generation Wild Coalitions. C&NN has facilitated three cohorts of Colorado Legacy Camp which is C&NN’s signature leadership training for diverse, emerging leaders between the ages of 18 and 26 years old. Participants in this multi-day intensive training leave camp with the skills and support they need to develop community-driven action plans to increase nature access for children, families and communities. The curriculum is built upon four foundational pillars: the power of personal narrative, leadership development, community organizing, and action planning.
We have expanded our partnership in 2020 with C&NN and they are working with us to build relationships with youth-serving organizations to increase the intergenerational connection and knowledge through the virtual conference and beyond. They will conduct a stakeholder scan and create an inventory of youth serving organizations, facilitate workshops to connect CPW with Colorado stakeholders and partners in engaging diverse youth leaders and advancing their leadership efforts. Additionally, C&NN is working to build the capacity of CPW as a model of equitable young professional development and retention among state/federal land management agencies.
As you cross into Colorado from New Mexico on I-25, one of the first things you see is Fishers Peak. This iconic mountain is located on a 30-square-mile property just outside the City of Trinidad and is the symbol of the community. Thanks to a unique partnership among Great Outdoors Colorado, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, the City of Trinidad and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, this property will become Colorado’s next state park, thus providing public access while protecting it for future generations.
This partnership supports almost all of CPW’s Strategic Plan goals. A key aspect of this project is to plan for both ecological and recreational goals from the beginning to ensure recreation and conservation priorities are balanced. This project supports conserving wildlife habitat while providing excellent outdoor recreation opportunities to connect people to the Colorado outdoors. This partnership is also helping the agency build awareness and trust with the public because it demonstrates our commitments from the Future Generations Act. Finally, this project will ensure public access to the outdoors while achieving land conservation priorities in southern Colorado.
A main reason for the partnership’s success is the collaboration of a local municipality, two national conservation nonprofits, and two state entities. The Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy would not have pursued the acquisition without the demand and support from the City of Trinidad and the local community to preserve the property’s natural values and open it to the public. Nor would they have been able to risk acquiring and financing over $20 million of the purchase or committing to holding it indefinitely without GOCO and CPW’s financial support, which came largely from hunting and angling dollars. If you remove any one of the project partners, then the project simply would not have happened, and Fishers Peak would have been slated for private development.
Northwest Region Partner of the Year:
Summit County Safe Passages
Summit County Safe Passages (SCSP) is a diverse, community-based collaboration working toward a vision of balancing wildlife needs with a growing human population that lives, travels and recreates in Summit County. The team is working towards creating safe passage for both wildlife and people along our roadways by identifying key movement corridors for wildlife and prioritizing safety for motorists. The community support behind this partnership reflects a shared passion to conserve our wildlife and create safer highways for all.
SCSP protects wildlife corridors to ensure sustainable populations. Development of wildlife crossing structures improves habitat connectivity, enhances ecosystems and reduces wildlife-vehicle mortality. SCSC supports sustainable access/opportunity for outdoor recreation by improving safety for motorists through development of wildlife highway crossing systems, reduction of wildlife-vehicle collisions, as well as community outreach/public engagement. SCSP promotes stewardship by participating in community events and school programs to educate on the importance of habitat connectivity for wildlife. SCSP promotes conservation by enhancing landscape-scale connectivity across multiple types of land ownership, protection of migration corridors, and reduction of wildlife-vehicle collisions.
Southeast Region Partner of the Year:
Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance
Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance (PPORA) is a collaborative of businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies who recognize the value of our region’s incredible natural and recreational resources to our community, both as an economic driver and for our health and well-being. PPORA is led by a Board and Advisory Council consisting of outdoor industry and community leaders. Their goal is to shape the future of outdoor recreation in the Pikes Peak Region so that the region is known as THE place for outdoor recreation.
The PPORA partnerships allow CPW to create unity by being in collaboration with local outdoor recreation businesses and nonprofits, and also leverages the agencies’ ability to reach diverse and new audiences.
PPORA has gathered over 50 nonprofits, local businesses and government agencies to support their mission. Bringing partners together at events such as the State of the Outdoors, Colorado Springs Get Outdoors Day and Pikes Peak Outdoor Leadership Summits, PPORA’s supporters collaborate and learn about current outdoor issues and challenges. As a convener of diverse partners, PPORA builds partnerships that help everyone involved make progress on difficult issues. PPORA believes that together we are stronger. They brought partners together for five years at the Colorado Springs Get Outdoors Day to provide free outdoor activities for over 6,000 participants and hosted Gubernatorial candidates to share their thoughts on outdoor issues in 2018.
Northeast Region Partner of the Year:
Big Thompson Watershed Coalition
Since the floods of 2013, the Big Thompson Watershed Coalition is a valuable partner to CPW in stream restoration and riparian health, but has been a true community leader bringing together essential stakeholders to care for and improve the natural resources of the watershed. These stakeholders include municipal water suppliers, agricultural producers, habitat advocates, and government agencies who have successfully worked together to plan and fund several river projects.
The Big Thompson Watershed Coalition assists CPW in achieving the goals of our strategic plan by helping conserve wildlife and habitat to contribute to healthy ecosystems, they provide opportunities for CPW to increase awareness and trust for the organization, and they connect people with the outdoors. The BTWC has restored or improved over 10 miles of river. Currently, the BTWC is facilitating a multi-stakeholder group working towards a strategic plan for the Big Thompson River. This project has many potential benefits for the river but it also helps CPW connect and form relationships with other partners on the river. Finally, through their 71 outreach efforts, are getting the community outside and connected to nature.
The Big Thompson Watershed Coalition is a good partner to CPW for the many beneficial projects they have completed in watershed health and resilience planning; construction of river restoration improvements; forest health improvement projects; and community involvement opportunities in watershed stewardship through project planning/design, restoration workdays, monitoring, and organizational board leadership.
Southwest Region Partner of the Year:
Durango Wildlife Volunteers
This organized group of volunteers has continually partnered with CPW to educate over 250,000 visitors at CPW’s Wildlife Museum in Durango about Colorado’s wildlife and ecosystems. The Durango Wildlife Museum Volunteers provide a public service and outreach that would not be possible with staff time and resources, making it an essential natural resource education program for CPW. The volunteers provide exceptional customer service and have recorded over 14,000 volunteer hours, equivalent to 6.7 full-time employees.
The Durango Wildlife Volunteers provide a public service and outreach that would not be possible with staff time and resources, making it an essential natural resource education program for CPW, one of the agency’s core competencies. Since the 1990s, museum volunteers have partnered with CPW to recruit, train, and retain committed volunteers annually. They assist CPW in providing “real life” opportunities for our youth to experience leading interpretive education to our community and visitors. They are dedicated to CPW’s mission while increasing awareness about wildlife management and participation in outdoor recreation while promoting conservation and stewardship of natural resources. Over the last three years, Durango Wildlife Volunteers have reached an average of 15,300 visitors annually with a record 16,923 in 2019.