Fund the shovel-ready opportunities
As we seek solutions to help Colorado recover from COVID-19, we must look at all the readily availableopportunities to boost employment and generate economic activity.
While every sector of our state’s economy was impacted in different ways and needs support to make it through this pandemic, there are projects that will benefit everyone and enhance communities across our state – like protecting our beautiful public lands.
Last week, the U.S. Senate passed Senator Cory Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act, which will ensure our public lands receive the investments they’re due – and therefore, our local communities as well. It will do this through permanently and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the most consequential conservation program for the nation and Colorado lands, at $900 million every year and provide billions to address the backlogged pile of maintenance projects that have grown on the public lands Coloradans and the rest of the world enjoy every day.
Why the LWCF? Because it has already funded projects in Colorado, cost-free to taxpayers. It’s already supported conservation and given Coloradans more recreation opportunities and further access at places like the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
The LWCF uses revenue generated from offshore energy production to fund conservation projects here in the United States.
Statewide, the backlog of projects on federal public lands in Colorado has reached more than $500 million. More than $8 million of that share is at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. There’s close to $3 million in deferred projects at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, more than $2.5 million at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, and another $850,000 at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.
These are the kinds of investments and opportunities that we should explore to help our state recover from COVID-19. Similar to the Arkansas Valley Conduit, which will provide abundant and clean drinking water to 50,000 Coloradans in Southeast Colorado, these projects invest in rural Colorado to help communities sustain their way of life. As an added benefit, many of these projects are shovel ready.
With a record number of Coloradans looking for work, these construction projects can benefit everyone in our state – not just now in the aftermath of COVID-19, but for generations and generations to come.
We urge the U.S. House of Representatives to send it to the president for his signature as soon as possible to guarantee a bright future for Colorado’s public lands and communities across our great state.
U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Rod Slyhoff, CEO of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce
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