07.09.20

Gardner Holds Meetings Across Colorado’s Western Slope

Discusses how his Great American Outdoors Act will benefit Colorado’s public lands and economy

Washington, D.C. – This week U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) held numerous events across Colorado’s Western Slope, meeting with local officials and small business owners and discussing how his bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act will benefit Colorado’s public lands and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Gardner’s historic conservation legislation to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the approximately $20 billion maintenance backlog on federal public lands passed the Senate 73-25 in June. 

NOTE: Click here to download B-roll of Senator Gardner’s Western Slope events

Black Canyon

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to download Senator Gardner’s remarks at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park 

Gardner began his tour of Western Slope events at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, where there is a nearly $7.8 million maintenance backlog of projects. Park officials showed Gardner the amphitheater they hope to improve, which will require roughly $200,000 worth of maintenance work. 

“The Great American Outdoors Act provides much needed funding for deferred maintenance projects at National Parks and other public lands,” said Senator Gardner. “This bipartisan bill will create well over 100,000 jobs nationwide and thousands in Colorado at a time when they are needed most. The jobs that are created and sustained by this bill as we recover from this pandemic will be a vital component of our overall economic recovery from COVID-19.”

Grand Mesa SS

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to download Senator Gardner’s remarks at Grand Mesa National Forest

At Grand Mesa National Forest, Gardner met with park officials to discuss how more maintenance work is necessary to keep up with the volume of guests who visit each year. The backlog of projects on Colorado’s forests managed by the U.S. Forest Service has grown to approximately $325 million.

“One of the challenges you have at a campground like this is while the campground was built 15 to 20 years ago, there’s no line of sight on additional funding to do maintenance on the restrooms, on the water systems, and help upgrade the camping facilities,” said Senator Gardner. “The Great American Outdoors Act provides line of sight for funding so they’re no longer reliant on a $50 million pool of funding that is competitively sought after across the country. This gives us a greater chance to get more dollars into this campground for restoration work done on bathrooms, camping sites, picnic tables, and beyond.”

CO Natl Monument

Colorado National Monument has a $20 million maintenance backlog, including trails to be rehabilitated, water systems to be improved, and other projects that would enhance the experience for visitors from Colorado and all over the world. Last year Colorado National Monument attracted over 397,000 visitors, which brought over $25 million in revenue for the surrounding area.

“We’ve got to get the Great American Outdoors Act passed so we can continue to protect our public lands,”said Senator Gardner. “This about making sure we have the money for maintenance.”

BLM SS

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to download Senator Gardner’s remarks at BLM lands in Rabbit Valley

Gardner met with Colorado Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials to see how the LWCF has been used to increase access for Coloradans to the lands that they own. BLM officials showed Gardner the potential future projects that could be possible when his Great American Outdoors Act is signed into law and the LWCF is fully funded at $900 million every year. Gardner remarked how important it is to have the BLM headquarters located just a few miles away in Grand Junction.

“Here in Rabbit Valley, overlooking the Colorado River, is another example of why it is important to have the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Grand Junction,” said Senator Gardner. “Grand Junction is just a few miles away from here, and better decisions are going to be made as a result of these lands not being thousands of miles away, they’re just a few miles away from the people who are making our decisions about our public lands.”

LWCF SS

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to download Senator Gardner’s remarks in Fruita

In Fruita, city officials showed Gardner how the LWCF was used to complete the local swimming pool and baseball fields. Forty percent of funding from the LWCF is dedicated to state and local communities to help build facilities like ballparks and city parks.

“A lot of people think of the Land and Water Conservation Fund as something that the Forest Service can utilize, or the Bureau of Land Management participates in, but 40 percent of funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund actually goes back to the state and local communities,” said Senator Gardner. “It helps bring recreation opportunities to more and more communities, whether it’s rural communities in Western Colorado or urban Denver, this is the kind of thing that the Great American Outdoors Act is going to accomplish for generations of Americans.”

GJ Roundtable

Gardner toured the newly completed River Park at Las Colonias Park in Grand Junction, and then he held a roundtable with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and members of the outdoor recreation industry on how the Great American Outdoors Act will benefit the local outdoor recreation economy. 

“The Western Slope is a vital part of our country’s economy, and certainly a vital part of Colorado,” said Senator Gardner. “Several years ago I was here before the river park was constructed, now three years later to see it, to see the families enjoying it, to see businesses being built here, it’s incredible to see the job opportunities that are being created here in Grand Junction.”

GJ Airport

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to download Senator Gardner’s remarks at the multi-agency airfield in Grand Junction

Gardner concluded his swing of Western Slope meetings at the multi-agency airfield at the Grand Junction Regional Airport. The airfield is used by the U.S. Forest Service, the BLM, and the National Park Service (NPS) and is an important hub for firefighters in the area to assist with wildfires. The Grand Junction Regional Airport recently received more than $550,000 to rehabilitate the runway and taxiway.

“You can see the importance of having this tanker base right here in Grand Junction,” said Senator Gardner.“One of the things that the Great American Outdoors Act is going to help us do is to provide help with some of the maintenance needs at this tanker base, which is necessary for the survival of our forests and our communities that rely on those forests.”

Gardner is a champion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the U.S. Senate:

  • On June 17, the U.S. Senate passed Gardner’s bipartisan bill, the Great American Outdoors Act with a strong bipartisan vote of 73-25.
  • Theodore Roosevelt IV, the great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, urged passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in June 2020.
  • A new report from the National Park Service released in June 2020 highlighted the popularity of our National Parks and the significant contributions they make to the economy, as Congress considers Gardner’s legislation to address the $20 billion maintenance backlog on federal public lands.
  • In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Gardner explained how the Great American Outdoors Act will boost Colorado’s economy and create thousands of jobs. To express what public lands mean to him, to Coloradans, and people all across our country, Gardner shared the story of Amache, a World War II Japanese-American internment camp he is pushing for Amache’s inclusion in the National Park System.
  • Outdoor recreation businesses wrote to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer in June 2020 in support of the Great American Outdoors Act, saying it would “support communities in all 50 states, support rural economies, create jobs to carry out essential work, and provide opportunities for millions of Americans to recreate on our public lands and waters for generations to come.”
  • In June 2020, Gardner led a bipartisan group of senators in calling for passage of the Great American Outdoors Act on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act in June 2020.
  • Six bipartisan former U.S. Secretaries of the Interior, including Coloradans Ken Salazar and Gale Norton, urged swift passage of Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act in June 2020.
  • In May 2020, Gardner secured confirmation that the U.S. Senate would consider his Great American Outdoors Act in June.
  • In May 2020, more than 800 conservation groups sent a letter to congressional leadership supporting the passage of Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act.
  • In April 2020, Gardner and other members of the Colorado congressional delegation called on leaders of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House to consider including Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act in future COVID-19 legislation.
  • The day after introducing the Great American Outdoors Act, Gardner discussed this historic legislationwith U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt at a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • In March 2020, Gardner introduced the Great American Outdoors Act to fully and permanently fund the LWCF and immediately address the nearly $20 billion in maintenance backlog at our public lands.
  • In March 2020, Colorado-based businesses and organizations called on Congress to pass Gardner’s legislation to fully and permanently fund the LWCF.
  • A broad group of conservation leaders in Colorado and around the country praised Senators Gardner and Daines for securing President Trump’s support for full and permanent LWCF funding and addressing the maintenance backlog on federal lands in March 2020.
  • Senators Gardner and Daines held a bipartisan press conference in March 2020 announcing they secured President Trump’s support for bipartisan legislation to provide full and permanent funding for the LWCF and address the $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks.
  • Gardner helped secure $495 million for the LWCF in December 2019, the highest funding level in more than 15 years.
  • Conservation groups in Colorado and across the country praised Gardner’s efforts to secure full and permanent funding for the LWCF in November 2019.
  • The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed S. 1081, the bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act in November 2019, a bill introduced by Gardner that will make the full funding of LWCF mandatory every fiscal year.
  • In November 2019, Gardner received ConservAmerica’s “Congressional Champion” award for his strong record promoting conservation policies.
  • In October 2019, Gardner and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill to fully fund the LWCF.
  • The first ever state-level data on the outdoor recreation economy was released in September 2019, as a direct result of the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC Act), introduced by Senators Gardner and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). President Obama signed the Outdoor REC Act into law in 2016.
  • Senators Gardner and Michael Bennet (D-CO) called on the leaders of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to include full, permanent funding for the LWCF in the fiscal year 2020 funding agreement in September 2019.
  • Gardner, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act in April 2019 to permanently fund the LWCF at $900 million every year.
  • Gardner received the 2019 National Park Heritage Award in April 2019 from the National Parks Conservation Association for his leadership in the signing into law of S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which included permanent reauthorization of the LWCF.
  • In 2019, Gardner led the fight to pass and have signed into law by the President S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which included a Gardner-sponsored bill to permanently reauthorize the LWCF.
  • In November 2018, Gardner held a press conference with other LWCF champions in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives calling for the reauthorization and fully funding of America’s most important conservation program.
  • In October 2018, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed both the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act, to fully fund and permanently reauthorize the LWCF, and the Restore our Park Act in October 2018. Gardner was a cosponsor of both pieces of legislation.
  • Gardner and 12 bipartisan colleagues in the U.S. Senate urged the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF in August 2018 before it was set to expire.
  • In July 2018, Gardner and a bipartisan group of colleagues introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill to permanently authorize the LWCF before it was set to expire.
  • In a July 2018 op-ed in the Denver Post, Senators Gardner and Michael Bennet (D-CO) touted the importance of the LWCF to Colorado and said, “It is time for Congress to stop the serial, short-term extensions of this program and make LWCF permanent with the full dedicated funding it deserves.”
  • At a bipartisan LWCF press conference in June 2018, Gardner promoted the 100-day campaign to make the LWCF’s authorization permanent.
  • In a May 2018 op-ed in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Gardner touted the importance of the LWCF as well as addressing the growing maintenance backlog on federal public lands.
  • Gardner introduced legislation to permanently reauthorize the LWCF with a bipartisan group of colleagues in April 2017.
  • In September 2016, Gardner and several of his colleagues wrote to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) requesting that permanent reauthorization of the LWCF be included in any final legislation that emerged from the energy bill conference.
  • In February 2016, Gardner spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate in support of the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which included permanent reauthorization of the LWCF.
  • In November 2015, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed permanent reauthorization of the LWCF with Gardner’s support.
  • Gardner and bipartisan colleagues sent a letter to Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid in November 2015 urging that permanent reauthorization of the LWCF be included in any must-pass year end legislation.
  • Gardner pressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid for permanent reauthorization of the LWCF in September 2015.
  • In April 2015 the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of the LWCF, which Gardner called “the nation’s most important conservation program.”
  • Gardner voted in favor of an amendment to permanently reauthorize the LWCF in his first month in the Senate.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.