- A Sustainable Water Future that involves conservation and quality.
- Efficient resource use whether it is energy, heating, gasoline, or green buildings.
- Continue support for the Clean Energy Economy.
- Tackling the bark beetle epidemic in our forests.
- Protection for our state parks, open lands and enhanced outdoor recreation opportunities.
"Conservation should be a core value and operating principle of everything we do." --John Hickenlooper
Every year millions of visitors both within the state and from around the world, discover Colorado's great outdoors. They come to experience the snow-capped peaks, red rock canyon lands, farms, ranches, and our beautiful parks. These natural lands are the backbone of our state's tourist and outdoor recreation economy. In addition to creating a beautiful state, they create jobs and opportunity for the people who live here. Our natural environment provides habitat for unique species of fish and wildlife, making Colorado a world-renowned destination for wildlife watching, hunting and blue-ribbon trout fishing. Protecting the environment in Colorado is not just the right thing to do... it's the economically smart thing to do!
Strategies and Solutions
Climate Change: No matter where you live in Colorado and no matter what your political views may be, we all depend on clean air and safe drinking water. As we look for ways to promote economic development, it is also important that we reduce pollution and minimize the public health impacts of illnesses like asthma. Promoting renewable energy, conserving water and maintaining clean air are just a few policy goals that lead to sustainable development and a high quality of life. In addition to carbon pollution's causal connection to climate change -- with all the potentially devastating impacts on our global environment -- we also face challenges in Colorado, where warmer winters have led to the bark beetle infestation of our forests. That's one reason I was proud to attend the international conference on climate change in Copenhagen.
Healthy Forests: Our forests are under attack from bark beetles. In Colorado, mountain pine beetles have affected approximately 3 million acres from the first signs of outbreak in 1996. Beetle-killed trees generally fall within ten years and, according to the Forest Service, up to 100,000 trees a day could topple. Forest devastation increases risk of wildfire (and corresponding releases of greenhouse gas emissions), threatens our communities, and degrades our forest and watershed health.
To combat the bark beetle and promote forest health, we will:
- Continue the Forest Health Advisory Committee to foster public/private collaborations involving government, private landowners, utilities, conservationists, the ski industry and other outdoor recreation businesses, that are working together to reduce fire risk, restore ecosystems, create jobs and mitigate impact of falling trees along roads, trails and power lines.
- Work with the water utilities to develop risk plans to protect watersheds and improve forest conditions.
- Seek out innovative uses for the dead lodge-pole pines involving the two million acres have been impacted.
- Engage leaders from the West, Colorado universities, and industries to explore best practices and innovative uses for this timber, including new technologies such as converting woody biomass to fuel and consumer use of pellets for home heating.
- Work with Congress, the Western Governors Association and the Colorado Congressional Delegation to pass legislation giving the U.S. Forest Service the resources it needs to mitigate the insect epidemic and help communities reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
Natural and Working Landscapes: Colorado enjoys one of America's most diverse and treasured landscapes. Our public lands contribute significantly to Colorado's healthy environment, high quality of life, economy, and rich natural and cultural heritage. Colorado's 42 state parks host over 12 million visitors a year and it is home to two of the top three most visited National Forests in the country (White River and Arapahoe Roosevelt).
Colorado's farms and ranches, which cover over 47% of Colorado's land area, make a significant contribution to the economy, offering fresh, locally grown food. Agriculture is the third largest economic engine in the state, producing over $6 billion in sales annually, with two thirds coming from livestock and one-third from crop sales. It is important that we support this vital industry.
To promote and support Colorado's local farms, we will:
- Work to encourage state purchasers to buy food from Colorado producers.
- Explore additional opportunities with communities and schools to promote locally produced food.
- Bring together agricultural interests and water developers to examine alternative agricultural water transfer methods to avoid permanent dry-up of irrigated lands.
- Promote the replenishment and responsible use of the state's conservation easement tax credit program to provide much needed revenues for farmers and ranchers.
Outdoor Recreation: Our state economy is dependent on outdoor recreation. Wildlife watching, hunting, fishing, snow sports, bicycling and hiking, support 107,000 jobs throughout the state and generate over $10 billion each year for Colorado's economy. Lottery funding for open spaces, state parks, wild life and local government outdoor projects has protected (through easements and acquisitions) over 850,000 acres since 2000.
To promote the outdoor recreation economy in Colorado, we will:
- Launch the Colorado Outdoors Initiative. As part of this major initiative, we will showcase Colorado's world-renowned outdoor recreational industry by launching a "Where the World Comes to Play in Every Season" campaign, to bring more tourism revenue to our state.
- Partner with the private sector to launch a "Tour de Colorado" to promote bicycling as a competitive sport in the State.
- Advance the partnership with the private sector to support and grow "Tour de Colorado" to promote bicycling as a competitive sport in the state.
- Bring together leaders in our communities, including elementary and high school teachers, physicians, and trainers to develop programs to expand public awareness of Colorado's outdoor recreation opportunities for a healthier lifestyle.
- Work with ski areas, outfitters, sportsmen and sportswomen, guides, hunters, the "hook and bullet" community and conservationists, to develop an outdoor recreation strategy that balances our need for economic development and the preservation of special places.
Conservation of Energy: Using energy and our natural resources wisely saves consumers and our state budget, protects our air and water and creates jobs. Residential and commercial buildings (including public buildings) account for 74 percent of electricity use and 45 percent of natural gas use in the state. Newly constructed green and energy efficient buildings use 30 to 50 percent less energy than typical new buildings that merely meet code requirements.
Small and low cost changes like water efficiency faucets, toilets, appliances, and landscaping can reduce water use by 40 percent or more, and changes in how we get around by walking, biking, mass transit or shorter trips in the car can reduce transportation costs and energy use by 25 percent or more.
To save our state money through energy conservation, we will:
- Work with local governments, citizens, and businesses to introduce innovative ways to save energy, water and money.
- Create a sustainable water future that involves conservation and quality protection.
- Efficient resource use whether it is energy, heating, gasoline, or buildings.
- Continue to build out the Clean Energy Economy
- No opening of Oil and Gas Rules.
- Provide energy and water saving tips, and will help coordinate workshops on green buildings for architects, developers and builders.
- Leverage federal dollars for additional rebates and financial incentives for home and business improvements that save energy and water, including efficient appliances, weatherization and xeriscaping.
- Support adoption of updated building codes to the 2009 International Energy Conservation code or better, and work with cities to develop a state-wide voluntary green building code.
Download a complete version of all of our issue papers here.