Just a day before Earth Day and recognizing Colorado’s unique outdoor heritage, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a proclamation recognizing April 21, 2011 as Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Day during a ceremony at the Capitol.
“We commend the Gov. Hickenlooper for his leadership in protecting our public lands and believe that his action can be a model for other states,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of Outdoor Industry Association. “The outdoor industry has continued to see tremendous growth in a time of great economic challenge, and the continued access and stewardship of these public lands will be critical to ensure that Colorado’s outdoor heritage and recreation economy is preserved.”
The proclamation highlights the increasing importance that volunteers play in the ongoing stewardship of Colorado’s public lands, and underscores outdoor recreation as an economic driver for the state. In Colorado alone, outdoor recreation contributes $10 billion annually to the state’s economy, supports 107,000 jobs and generates nearly $500 million in annual state tax revenue.
“A whole generation of kids is growing up without any exposure to the outdoors,” stated Gov. Hickenlooper during the official proclamation ceremony. “The synergy that happens when you take people outside their natural world and give them the opportunity to do something meaningful – it’s transformative. Most people – when they go out and get involved in some level of stewardship and go back to their normal lives – bring that experience back to their families and their offices.”
With more than half of Colorado owned by state or federal agencies, volunteers are vital to the ongoing stewardship of these lands. In fact, volunteers are becoming highly adept at supporting stewardship needs throughout the state. In 2010 alone, volunteers contributed more than 1.2 million hours valued at $27 million in labor costs.
A diverse group of organizations was on hand at the Capitol to celebrate the inaugural Outdoor Stewardship Day, including outdoor companies, stewardship organizations, sportsmen groups, youth corps, state and federal agencies, outdoor user groups and more. The importance of Colorado’s public lands to the state’s economy and recreation was the unifying theme for the eclectic gathering at the Capitol.
For more information about OIA go to outdoorindustry.org.