Executive Council member Sarah Bransom submitted this letter to the Editor of the Steamboat Pilot & Today in Northwest Colorado.

Sarah Bransom: Tipton should support Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act

News | May 16, 2019

I was pleased to read Congressman Scott Tipton’s op-ed about celebrating National Park Week. He wrote that he has been “especially proud to introduce and support these national park sites and other treasured lands.”

Thankfully, he has a chance to support legislation that would designate another National Park Service site for Colorado: the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE). The bill, introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet and Congressman Joe Neguse would officially designate Curecanti as a national park site. Additionally, it would preserve critical wildlife habitat, enhance outdoor recreation opportunities and honor World War II veterans.

The legislation is a combination of four previously introduced measures vetted within the local communities for nearly a decade. In addition to Curecanti, the bill would conserve Camp Hale and the Continental Divide, protect wilderness in the San Juan Mountains and safeguard the Thompson Divide. Over the past decade, the CORE Act has garnered support from sportsmen, veterans, local elected officials and municipalities, small business owners, ranchers, mountain bikers, and other concerned residents.

As Congressman Tipton stated in his op-ed, national parks attract people near and far, contributing $500 million a year to Colorado’s economy. The CORE Act would add to that, protecting more places for people to hike and camp, bike and snowmobile, hunt and fish and other activities. In fact, Colorado’s overall outdoor recreation economy, which is based on all public lands, not just our national parks, contributed $62 billion to Colorado’s economy and $35 billion to the state’s GDF, while supporting 511,000 direct jobs.

These economic numbers are rivaled by the level of support for conservation in Colorado. According to the bipartisan Conservation in the West poll, 96% of voters think outdoor recreation is important to our state’s future economy. Additionally, 97% of Coloradans believe public lands give the Centennial State an economic advantage over other parts of the country.

So, I am asking Congressman Tipton to invest in all of our public lands by supporting the CORE Act. In Colorado, conservation isn’t a partisan issue; it is a part of every person who comes to live or visit our incredible state. It is time to protect our natural heritage for current and future generations, and I urge Congressman Tipton to support the CORE Act.

Sarah Bransom is a retired National Park Service program manager and serves on the Executive Council of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks.