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Community-led organizations call on increased funding for the Colorado Outdoor Equity Grant Program


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.


Sincerely,

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

Outdoors

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

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