Public Lands Make Colorado, Colorado

These are my kids! (Oh, and my dogs — Goose and Angus). Public lands make Colorado special. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to make sure that they’re here for our next generation.

One of the first things you learn growing up on Colorado’s front range is which way West is. Sure, it could be because we feel the pioneering spirit of the West in our bones, but I’m willing to bet a big part of it is because our towering Rocky Mountains are just begging to be explored.

Colorado is home to four National Parks and eight National Monuments, all part of over 24 million acres of public land where we hunt, fish, hike, ski, snowboard, and raft. Each acre supports a tourism industry that brought in over $19 billion in spending from over 77 million visitors in 2016 alone.

The majesty and the wildlife that calls public lands home is what gives us our grit, our character, and a worldwide reputation for being one of the best places to live and visit. Public lands shape our culture and our history and their resources provide us the jobs and industries of the future.

And they belong to every Coloradan. Its why in 2015, I was so excited to support establishing the third Saturday in May as Public Lands Day, happening for the first time this year on May 20th. As an avid snowboarder and cyclist, I wouldn’t have the same experiences with my family that I enjoy every year if I didn’t live in our great state. I want to make sure that these lands are available for every generation that comes next.

Unfortunately, there are those who disagree.

Big out-of-state oil and gas companies have a friend in the Republican-held Congress, and in President Trump. They’re hoping that the federal government auctions off these public lands to the highest bidder, removing access to them, and harming the wildlife and environment that we’ve vowed to protect.

What Public Lands Day reminds us is that the vast environment that we enjoy shouldn’t be taken for granted. It’s to be fought for and protected, as much as it is to be enjoyed. Thankfully Coloradans have stepped up in offering over 100 events across the state celebrating our lands, and reminding everyone how important they are to our quality of life.

Breweries are brewing special beers to remind people of how important clean water is to our small businesses, and small outdoor-recreation shops are welcoming the masses to provide the gear they need to explore. When given a choice, we know that Coloradans side with small businesses and our environment over the profits of out-of-state corporations.

That’s why I promise to be as staunch a defender of our environment as you can find in Congress.

By moving on from dirty fossil fuels and realizing a more complete renewable energy industry that fights climate change and creates jobs, we can use our pioneering spirit to bring innovation to the world.

Protecting the water rights of our state means that we guard ourselves from the negative impacts of a drought, and also ensure that Coloradans’ property rights are respected by both state and federal governments.

Protecting our public lands isn’t about politics. It’s about passing the Colorado we know and love down to our kids and grandchildren. I hope you’ll celebrate Public Lands Day with me this year, and will join me in fighting for our public lands whenever threatened.

After all, we wouldn’t be Colorado without them.

In solidarity,

Andy

P.S. If you know anybody looking for some top-notch snowboarding lessons, let’s just say I know a guy.