Colorado Delegation Members Urge Congressional Leadership
to Support Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Businesses, Reinvest in Public Lands in Upcoming Legislation
Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R) and Colorado U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D), Ed Perlmutter (D), Joe Neguse (D), and Jason Crow (D) called on Senate and House Leadership to support the nation’s outdoor economy in future economic relief legislation. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the lawmakers wrote that the outdoor economy – which supports 5.2 million jobs nationwide and was seeing strong growth prior to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic – faces daunting challenges as it looks to reopen.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, local governments, land management agencies, and outdoor businesses are facing difficult decisions. Many businesses operating on public lands, such as ski areas, outfitter and guide operations, and concessionaires, have already closed, limited visitors, and lost revenue. At the same time, counties and local governments are required to limit tourists and redirect local resources to fighting COVID-19,” the members wrote.
To mitigate the damage to the outdoor economy and to enable a quick recovery, Bennet and his colleagues requested the congressional leaders consider fee waivers and additional flexibility for businesses operating on public lands. They also requested supplemental funding for roads, trails, and other recreation infrastructure needs to ensure fee waivers or lost revenues do not undercut local government or agency budgets. Bennet and his colleagues also pushed to include the Great American Outdoors Act to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund in upcoming legislation. Finally, they pressed Congressional leadership for additional resources to mitigate future disasters, including to respond to and recover from wildfires during the ongoing pandemic.
“With COVID-19 stressing local and county budgets even more than normal, local governments would benefit from a federal funding infusion for our public lands. We urge you to reinvest in our recreation infrastructure, including roads, trails and other facilities, to support Colorado communities and sustain the national outdoor economy for years to come,” continued the members.