As Coloradans, living life outside is what we do. Whether hunting, fishing, hiking, biking or engaging in other forms of recreation, the majority of us spend valuable time enjoying Colorado’s magnificent outdoors. Statistically speaking, approximately 92% of Coloradans recreate in the outdoors at least once every few weeks and some, four or more times per week. With one of the country’s fastest-growing populations, however, residents and tourists are facing crowding at public recreation areas, maintenance backlogs and conflicting outdoor recreation pursuits.
Colorado’s current population of 5.5 million is projected to jump to 8.5 million people by 2050. This growth, combined with the population’s thirst for recreation and love of the outdoors, produces a number of significant challenges to both recreation and conservation. These are challenges that need to be met head-on, with thoughtful planning coordinated by a wide range of stakeholders.
Planning for the Future
Every five years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) leads the development of a comprehensive outdoor recreation plan to maintain eligibility for funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and to inform additional investments from other federal, state, local and private programs. Given the significance of outdoor recreation in Colorado, however, this plan is much more than a federal requirement for funding. Colorado’s 2019 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) was developed in close collaboration with a wide range of partners and provides a shared vision for the future of Colorado’s outdoors. In addition, Colorado’s Outdoor Principles were integrated into the 2019 SCORP Priority Areas.
These seven core principles, which focus on an outdoor ethic that promotes both inclusive recreational enjoyment and thoughtful conservation, were adopted by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission in 2016.
The 2019 SCORP considers conservation and recreation together as values that are closely intertwined and of great importance to Colorado; this is the first time the plan considers both conservation and recreation in this manner. As part of the 2019 SCORP development process, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff identified activities Coloradans enjoy, why they are motivated to participate, what barriers stand in their way, and what types of outdoor recreation experiences they prefer both locally and statewide. The plan also includes new studies focused on outdoor recreation participation, including barriers and motivations, management challenges, as well as the economic contribution of outdoor recreation.
A Plan for All Coloradans
SCORP is a plan for all Coloradans. Now, it is up to all of us — local, state, and federal governments, conservation and recreation professionals, volunteers, and recreationists — to act upon the information and strategies provided in the plan and work together to achieve a future vision where Colorado’s outdoors continues to provide rich recreation experiences while conserving natural and cultural resources.
To learn more about SCORP and outdoor recreation in Colorado, view the following:
Written by Doug Skinner. Skinner is an editor for Colorado Outdoors Online and is a media specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.