BOULDER, Colo. – Saturday is National Public Lands Day. Almost 40 percent of Colorado is public land, between federal and state acreage, but voters aren’t hearing much about it so far in the run-up to the November elections.
Sportsmen’s groups would like to change that, and they’re reaching out to the congressional candidates to make sure they’re aware of public lands issues. Tim Brass, with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, hopes Public Lands Day sparks some conversation – as well as conservation – in Colorado.
“They’re a great asset; they’re a birthright of all Americans, and we think sportsmen understand that. And we’re just trying to help get that message out.”
Even in Colorado, says Brass, outdoor enthusiasts are nervous about issues like the so-called Border Bill (HR 1505) that passed the U.S. House this summer. It strips some environmental protections from lands within 100 miles of the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico to give unrestricted access to Homeland Security.
Brass says one priority for sportsmen is the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which takes a portion of royalties paid from offshore oil drilling to use for conservation and recreation projects on public land. And in Colorado, public lands generate jobs and revenue. He says this year’s hunting season is a good example.
“Tourism is huge, and you know, Colorado is one of the only places where nonresidents can just buy an over-the-counter tag. They can come here, decide to go hunting a week before the season starts – and they can make the trip out to Colorado and shoot a bull.”
On Saturday, in at least 50 sites around the state, volunteers will help with trail-building and maintenance, trash pick-up and invasive plant removal, all in conjunction with state and federal agencies. Find a project near you online at publiclandsday.org.