In 2020, we sifted quickly in response to the worldwide pandemic and curated a virtual conference that continued our efforts to advance Colorado's Outdoor Principles as we provided the outdoor conservation and recreation community in Colorado the opportunity to build common ground by forging new collaborations with diverse stakeholders and voices. We learned about key issues in the industry and generated innovative ideas and solutions that helped us advance the priorities identified in Colorado's Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) which supports our State Wildlife Action Plan and our Strategic Plan.
During the 2019 conference, we worked to shift from planning to action. Based on the Colorado Outdoor Principles and after months of collaborative work across the state from hundreds of partners, stakeholders and citizens, Colorado drafted one of the finest Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plans (SCORP) in the nation. Although our agency served as the lead author of this plan, an important distinction to be made is that this is not CPW’s plan, it is Colorado’s plan. Thus we explored the following guiding questions: How do we continue to collaborate, shifting from successful planning to on-the-ground implementation? And how might we turn this plan into action that will positively impact Colorado’s future?
This year we worked to Advance Colorado by Investing in the Outdoors. At this year’s conference, we explored the following question: How can our efforts to invest in outdoor recreation and conservation support a viable economy, a healthy population, and the future of our outdoor heritage? On this topic, Amy Roberts, the Executive Director of the Outdoor Industry Association, discussed OIA’s work on the economics of the outdoors, nationally and in Colorado, and Becky Humphries, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Wild Turkey Federation, shared her perspectives on advancing both outdoor recreation and conservation based on her professional experiences leading both a state natural resources agency and a national conservation organization. For our closing keynote, we heard from Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind person to summit Mt. Everest and the co-founder of an organization called No Barriers, whose mission is to help people with challenges, which is all of us to some extent, to turn into the storm of life, face barriers head-on, embrace a pioneering and innovative spirit, and team up with great people to live rich in meaning and purpose.
The 2017 conference brought to the forefront the growing need to balance outdoor recreation and sustainable management of wildlife in Colorado. At this year’s conference, we explored the following question: How will your organization stay relevant amidst Colorado’s changing demographics and growing population? We were pleased to have our State Demographer, Elizabeth Garner, provide the opening address to highlight current trends and their impacts to the demand and use of our state’s natural resources. We were prompted to consider how these changes affect the missions of organizations and agencies in the hunting, angling, outdoor recreation, and land conservation industries. We also heard from Lt. Governor Donna Lynne about the importance of outdoor recreation of all types to Colorado’s economy and the quality of life of our residents and visitors, and from Tovar Cerulli, the founder of Clearwater Communications, who shared his balanced perspective on what staying relevant in conservation means and how collaborations can pave the way in paradigm shifts.
This year we promoted strong initiatives that link the stewardship of Colorado’s lands to our future and to the collaborative effort of partners. We heard from Christian Beckwith, the founder and director of SHIFT, and Luis Benitez, the director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. Beckwith advocated a “place-first” approach to outdoor recreation that prioritizes the well-being of our places over the activities we love to do in them so that we may avoid the tragedy of the commons. Benitez documented the lessons he's learned from being a world-renowned professional alpinist and how he has applied them to all aspects of life, as well as detailing the opportunity we each have to work collaboratively to create a more unified voice for Colorado's outdoor spaces and businesses.