Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has released a draft 2019 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) for public review and comment. As outdoor recreation participation booms in Colorado, the plan lays out top priorities to address the state’s needs for conservation and outdoor recreation over the next five years.
Increasing popularity for outdoor spaces plus a growing understanding of how important outdoor recreation is to Colorado’s economy, quality of life, and health make it essential that all Coloradans work collaboratively to conserve Colorado’s outdoor playground.
The draft SCORP includes new studies looking at outdoor recreation participation, including barriers and motivations, and management issues.
“According to the new information collected, 92 percent of Coloradans recreate outdoors at least once every few weeks,” said Dr. Mike Quartuch, human dimensions specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Almost 70 percent of Coloradans recreate outdoors one or more times per week,” Dr. Quartuch said. Coloradans’ favorite outdoor recreation activities are walking and hiking, while about a third enjoy picnicking, camping and fishing.
When asked about barriers to participating in outdoor recreation, Coloradans cited time constraints, crowding and traffic. When asked about future investments for where they live, Coloradans are interested in more walking trails and paths, nature and wildlife viewing areas and picnic areas with shelters that can accommodate small groups. When considering statewide priorities, people find long-term planning and management, operations and maintenance of existing facilities, and trails to be the most important.
“In 2014, our SCORP reported that outdoor recreation contributed $34.5 billion to Colorado’s economy. We anticipate this new report will show extensive growth in this powerhouse industry,” said Bob Broscheid, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Every report that comes out about this industry makes it one of the largest sectors in Colorado’s economy, greater than construction, finance, and manufacturing. The impacts ripple across both urban and rural communities and benefit our daily lives.”
Since the last statewide study for Colorado five years ago, the contribution of outdoor recreation continues to demonstrate its might both at home and nationally. The most recent Outdoor Industry Association report finds that the outdoor recreation sector contributes $887 billion in consumer spending nationwide.
Over the next twenty years, the state’s population is projected to grow by around 100,000 people every year. As a result, the acres of outdoor recreation lands per capita in Colorado will drop by about 20 percent. This means more crowding and pressure on the state’s outdoor resources, including outdoor recreation infrastructure and wildlife habitat.
“We are at a critical juncture in determining the future of conservation of the places we love and the demand for recreation opportunities. Our outdoor spaces, recreation opportunities and wildlife are defining characteristics of Colorado,” Broscheid stated. “We cannot look at these as separate from one another. Conservation and outdoor recreation are intertwined. It is up to each of us to play an active role in caring for and maintaining these valuable assets. Our way of life depends on it.”
To address these challenges, the draft SCORP identifies four top priorities:
1. Enhance sustainable access and opportunity to enjoy the outdoors
2. Promote stewardship of natural, cultural and recreational resources
3. Conserve lands, waters and wildlife
4. Ensure adequate funding to sustain Colorado’s outdoors for the future
The 2019 SCORP was prepared with extensive input from Colorado leaders in outdoor recreation, including members of the Colorado Outdoor Partnership. "For over a year, outdoor recreation interests met with conservation groups, sportsmen, outdoor educators, government and others to consider pressing issues and identify the top priorities for the future of Colorado's outdoors," said Allison Kincaid, Executive Director of Colorado Parks and Recreation Association. "This plan is Colorado's plan. It was developed through a collaborative process and will require strong partnerships to ensure its success."
With broad input, this plan provides the framework to strategically allocate Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars - combined with investments from other federal, state, local and private funding programs - and support collaborations between outdoor recreation providers that promote both recreational enjoyment and thoughtful conservation of Colorado’s special places.
The public has until October 22nd to review the draft 2019 SCORP and provide comments to CPW. For more information, or to comment on the plan visit: Coloradoscorp.org
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