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Next 100 Colorado Blog!

A wide landscape shot of a river. Snow covers the land. The sun shines.

Gov. Jared Polis

Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibb

Colorado Parks & Wildlife Director Jeff Davis

Members of the Colorado General Assembly

December 4th, 2023

Dear Gov. Polis, Directors Gibbs and Davis, and Members of the General Assembly:

On behalf of the 68 undersigned organizations, we thank you for your commitment and leadership in working toward a Colorado where nature’s benefits are available to and experienced by all. Many of our organizations were supporters of HB 21-1318 to create the Outdoor Equity Grant Program in Colorado. We celebrated when Gov. Polis signed the bill into law at Lincoln Hills CARES in Gilpin County. We are heartened by the progress made to-date, but believe there is more work to be done.

Since the program was created, Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) has distributed about $3 million through two rounds of grantmaking to 69 grantees including Tribes, non-profit organizations, school districts and businesses. This funding has benefited a total of 7,498 participants in 34 counties across the state. This is a significant achievement, of which we should all be proud. Yet, the initial funding provided by HB 21-1318, which maxes out at $3 million per year beginning in the 2023-2024 fiscal year, is insufficient. Demand for grants, defined as the total dollar amount requested through the first two grant periods totaled over $23 million. Yet, in 2022 through the first two rounds of grants, just over $3 million was awarded. We recognize that demand may not be the best measure of an appropriate funding level, but quality proposals were funded at a lesser level or denied due to the current limitations on funding during the first two rounds of funding.

We believe a significant opportunity exists to expand funding to help more Colorado youth to get outside and experience nature’s benefits. Further, other states across the west have significantly resourced their outdoor equity funds and expanded funding. During New Mexico’s 2023 legislative session, they passed SB 9 - the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, which established a permanent endowment fund to support conservation efforts in perpetuity, including by increasing the amount available for the state’s Outdoor Equity Fund. In California, the state made $57 million worth of grants during its first round of grant applications in 2022.

We look forward to working with you and your staff to advance this initiative between now and when the Colorado legislature convenes in January 2024. Thank you again for your efforts to make Colorado’s incredible natural spaces welcoming and accessible to all.


1. Jennifer Singer - 4Corners Broadband/Great Old Broads For Wilderness

2. Hector Salas – Aint Dead Communications LLC

3. Zuza Bohley - Americas for Conservation + the Arts

4. Andrea Aust - Aspen Center for Environmental Studies

5. Jenna Celmer - Basecamp Outdoor

6. John Sanderson - Center for Collaborative Conservation

7. Donahue - City of Fort Collins, Natural Areas Department

8. Katie Navin - Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education

9. Dominic Lucero - Colorado High Country Educational Treks

10. Lauren Petrie - Colorado Rising

11. Ramesh Bhatt - Colorado Sierra Club

12. Scott Segerstrom - Colorado Youth Corps Association

13. Brien Webster - Conservation Colorado

14. Teresa Martinez - Continental Divide Trail Coalition

15. Ford Church - Cottonwood Institute

16. Omar Sarabia - Defiende Nuestra Tierra

17. Matt Samelson - Donnell-Kay Foundation

18. Anita Evans - Friends of Youth and Nature

19. Becca Katz - Good Natured Learning

20. Chara Ragland - Great Old Broads for Wilderness - South San Juan Broadband

21. Christine Jauhola - Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Grand Junction Broadband

22. Carrie Krickbaum - Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Northern San Juan Broadband

23. Jason Marsden - Greater Arkansas River Nature Association

24. Ean Thomas Tafoya - GreenLatinos Colorado

25. Cindy Chang - Groundwork Denver

26. Timiya Jackson - Heart & Hand Center

27. Mike Ksenyak - Intersecting Solutions LLC

28. Josh Miller - Josh Miller Ventures LLC

29. Bianca Modesta McGrath-Martínez - Latino Outdoors Colorado

30. J.R. Lapierre - Lincoln Hills Cares

31. Zuza Bohley - Love 4 Nature, Inc.

32. Gemara Gifford - Mending Mountains Collective LLC

33. Javier Pineda - Mountain Dreamers Oso Outdoors

34. Shirley Romero Otero - Move Mountains Project: San Luis

35. Taishya Adams - Mukuyu Collective, LLC

36. Tracy Coppola - National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)

37. Taylor Driver - Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center

38. Devin Jaffe - Nature's Educators

39. Andy Hartman - New Treks

40. Jerry Otero - Next 100 Colorado

41. Della Garelle - Northern Front Range Broads; Great Old Broads for Wilderness

42. Carmela Montenegro - Not Mad Just Misunderstood

43. Felipe Vieyra - Oso Adventure Meals

44. Beatriz Soto - Protegete

45. Jason Swann - Rising Routes

46. Jack Curry - Riverside Educational Center

47. Megan Dean - Roaring Fork Conservancy

48. Ian Stafford - Rocky Mountain Conservancy

49. Chris Talbot-Heindl - Rocky Mountain Wild

50. Christine Canaly - San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council

51. Annie Altwarg, Brian Puccerella, Dani Robben, and Mick Daniel - San Luis Valley Great


52. Mason Osgood - Sheep Mountain Alliance

53. Seth Ehrlich - SOS Outreach

54. Shaina Gonzales - Spirit of the Sun

55. Denisee Sierra - Sun Valley Youth Center

56. Ryan Aids - The Greenway Foundation

57. Ben Graves - The Nature Connection

58. Jim Ramey and Clara Moulton - The Wilderness Society

59. Liz Rose and Jared Romero - Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

60. Rachel Brett - Thorne Nature Experience

61. Emily Hornback - Western Colorado Alliance

62. Maritza Arizaga - Western Resource Advocates

63. Hannah Stevens - Western Slope Conservation Center

64. John Sztukowski - Wild Connections

65. Sarah R Johnson - Wild Rose Education

66. Erin Riccio - Wilderness Workshop

67. Kriste Peoples - Women's Wilderness

68. Megan Patterson - Worldmind Nature Immersion School

Photograph and direction by The Female Shoota. Makeup by Brittany Blaze-Shearz Haircut by Uri Moreno Cattoo by Aura Rain Heindl-Rockman

Hey, y'all! I'm Chris Talbot-Heindl, and my affirming pronouns are they and them. I'm currently the Communications Director and on the Leadership Team at Rocky Mountain Wild, the Editor of Community-Centric Fundraising's Content Hub, and the owner of The Talbot-Heindl Experience, a small company for my spouse and myself to create magazines, chapbooks, educomics, and artwork, and for me to do justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) consulting.

You can find me on my website at, or on Instagram or Twitter at @talbot_heindl.

Photograph and direction by The Female Shoota.

Makeup by Brittany Blaze-Shearz

Haircut by Uri Moreno

Cattoo by Aura Rain Heindl-Rockman

What do you do for work and how does this work tie into the movement and Next100 CO?

I like to think of my work with all of my jobs and with Next 100 Colorado to be about creating spaces that are ready to celebrate people when they turn up authentically. I've spent 21 years working and volunteering with environmental nonprofit spaces that weren't built with me in mind as a queer, trans nonbinary, mixed-race, and neurodivergent person. I've spent the majority of that time trying to acclimate as a survival tactic. But coalitions like Next 100 Colorado, movements like Community-Centric Fundraising, and organizations like artEquity, Native Wellness Institute, and Justice Outside, all of which I am blessed to have in my network, gave me the permission and the tools to take up space, to use my authentic voice, and to advocate for myself and my communities. I like to think of my work as spreading that reframe to my relatives that have also spent their careers on the margins while advocating and providing training to my relatives who haven't on how they can be accomplices and restructure organizations to be safer, welcoming, inviting, and ready for all of us to show up authentically.

What inspired your career in conservation?

I started a career in the environmental nonprofit industrial complex completely by accident. It began as a one-time contract opportunity passed down to me when I was 19, which opened the door to an internship, which led to a career. But I was called to it once I had the open door because of the experiences of my childhood. My family lived on a street in rural Wisconsin just outside of Green Bay that sat between a slaughterhouse and a dump. My summers were spent playing outdoors like most kids in the 80s and 90s, but often with the smell of either warm blood or decaying trash depending on the direction of the wind. The dump would occasionally burn things (or items would catch fire, not sure which), so we had that as well. I developed asthma over time and in my late teens and early twenties, I had to use an inhaler. In high school, I took an environmental science class, and while we never used the term "environmental justice," I could see the connection and I was 100% in to solve the issues, in whatever way I could. But really, it was by accident. If a door had opened for racial justice or queer rights, I would have leapt with just as much fervor. It just so happened that the environmental nonprofit door opened first.

What needs to be said about Colorado, its history, the outdoors, equity, conservation, inclusivity, etc.?

Ooh! So much needs to be said. I'm a transplant, so I'm still slowly learning the Colorado history from this state's Indigenous elders. The history I learned from Google searches and books was incomplete at best, and complete fiction at worst. So, I think that's what I want to say: Accept that the history you've received from your schooling and from traditional media sources is skewed — sometimes just because of uninvestigated bias and sometimes with malice or for a purpose — to erase the injustices of the past that have impacted our present. Listen and believe marginalized people when they tell you their experience and their history. Be open to that and recognize it as the gift it is rather than getting defensive or feeling guilt or shame from either not knowing (the truth was something taken from you, not something you are guilty of not knowing) or benefiting at others' expense (that was imposed on you, so it's not your fault, but it is your responsibility to combat in any way that you can).

I think a lot of our equity work gets stopped in its tracks because people lean into defensiveness or guilt when confronted with something they didn't learn in school (think: the argument that there are only two sexes or genders — when there is biologically natural variance in sex and gender is a social construct — when it comes to discussions about transgender rights, or the uproar from Governor Polis and others after Black and Indigenous activists toppled the Civil War statue at the Colorado state capitol that named the Sand Creek Massacre as a battle rather than the horrific massacre it was). Now imagine how we could do better work — better equity and inclusion work in the outdoors, in our environmental nonprofits, and in conservation, leading to better and more nuanced solutions — more quickly if people leaned in with curiosity when confronted with new information or different ways of knowing. I think that's the top thing I want to say today. It may be entirely different tomorrow. LOL.

In this week's Member Spotlight we're excited to learn more about Tracy Coppola, the Colorado Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.

How long have you been a Next 100 Colorado Member?

About a year and a half. I was involved with the Next 100 national coalition when I used to live in DC and sought out the coalition right away when I got to Colorado! How does your job help make Colorado’s outdoor spaces more diverse, equitable, and inclusive?

The national parks are, ideally, one of our country’s best storytellers and have the power to bring people together. NPCA is a national parks advocate group, and we actively work on policy reform and public engagement in a way that brings parks to people while also urging reform within the park system so that it is more representative of us all. Certainly there is a lot of work and reconciliation to be done. For starters, there are many ways I try to make positive connections. For example, this might mean organizing an unforgettable day in a national park with an expert ranger; a day of testifying at a public hearing; meeting with our state and federal decisionmakers; or simply listening to someone’s experience in their own backyard.

In my role with NPCA, I am committed to finding ways to make the story of our national parks more complete, and toward interrogating and re-interrogating the narrative of our country, including how it is represented and by whom. One of examples of this ongoing work in Colorado is the Amache campaign, which is very much a Japanese American stakeholder-led effort, to hopefully designate this former WWII prison in Granada, Colorado, as an official part of the National Park Service so that the story is not only preserved and protected for future generations but also so that it remains alive and very much relevant to today’s experience. I believe the National Park Service has the distinct power to make this happen in the thorough and respectful way that Amache, Coloradans and everyone living in America deserves. Where possible, I’d like to do many more campaigns like this one. We all benefit from a greater investment in our cultural resources and collective history.

Another example is our relationship with the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical site and finding ways to work with the site’s tribal liaison so that our members know that story so critical to our history. Our more “famous” parks that are more well known for their natural resources, like Rocky Mountain National Park, have a very significant tribal history about which we are working to engage and educate our members. I also work with our team to protect landscapes in and around parks from the threat of air pollution and dominant energy extraction—key issues that Coloradans face every day. Critical to all this work is the voice of the public so often shut-out from policy decisions directly impacting human health and welfare, especially bipoc, rural communities, and economically vulnerable communities. How has Next 100 Colorado changed the way you approach your work?

I am continually learning and growing in my work and Next 100 Colorado inspires me on this journey. Working in coalition is not only uplifting and critical to my work out here, but it also challenges me to think and rethink my approach toward being a true ally and accomplice. Also, while a lot of my work is federally-specific, I also appreciate opportunities to engage on the regional and state-based work, where often the most productive things are accomplished. Next 100 CO is a becoming a big part of that focus. What is your favorite outdoor spot in Colorado? I keep returning to the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve as one of the most precious places on the planet, but truly it’s impossible to have one favorite. The Gunnison area is unbelievable, and anywhere in the alpine zones is magical.

What is your favorite outdoor activity? Hiking in wilderness areas, especially deeply forested areas with healthy pine trees. Who inspired your career in conservation/the outdoors?

Very early on, my mother’s side of the family in Puerto Rico. Mainly the older generation of Puerto Ricans like my grandparents and great-grandparents who lived in tiny mountain towns like Aibonito (where my mom was born) and Barranquitas. They would never have called their actions “conservation” but they depended upon and knew land like no one else I had ever known. This is a difficult, complicated story that I don’t pretend to fully understand because I have lived a very different experience, but it is connected to me. Parts of my family experienced a lot of struggle and trauma, and it was not always a harmonious relationship with the land—some were sharecroppers, some were fortunate to own land, and some (like my grandfather) had to leave the family and migrate to the states to work on farms. But very early on I learned, in bits and pieces as much as my mom could share, about the family’s deeply rooted relationship with the land outdoors, and it always stuck with me.

Later on, my inspirations morphed into a series of fortunate events when I lived in Chicago and was making the connection between animal welfare and the environment, reading the works of animal welfare leaders like Stephen Wise and Gary Francione—their books were unforgettable, jaw-dropping reads that made me late to work or distractedly miss key trades from the trading floor I was supposed to be monitoring while working at a large hedge fund (during one of my Lost Years)! Also, having the great fortune to travel to places like Admiralty Island National Monument in Alaska and study grizzly bears in their natural habitat pushed me over the edge—I was hooked and wanted to do my part to try to protect these special, natural places as much as possible. So I guess you can say the Puerto Ricans, the grizzly bears, and being a bad hedge fund employee ultimately brought me to where I am today—a sentence that I think maybe no one has said before.

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