Colorado is synonymous with majestic mountains, lush prairie lands, deep forests, and the vibrant city of Denver. It is also an outdoor adventurer’s dreamland, with endless activities to whet one’s appetite for the outdoors. So it is only fitting that Colorado was the first state in the nation to establish a holiday honoring its public lands. For residents of this state, it is an opportunity to celebrate something that is central to the economy and quality of life here.
A Bit of History
In May 2016, the state holiday was established when the Colorado General Assembly passed a bill declaring the 3rd Saturday in May as Colorado Public Lands Day. The bipartisan bill brings attention to “the significant contributions that national, state and local public lands within Colorado make to wildlife, recreation, the economy, and to Coloradans’ quality of life.”
It was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper, and the inaugural event was celebrated on May 20, 2017. The passing of the bill has led to over 100 planned events to celebrate the day all around the state for the past several years.
The landmark legislation triggered a domino effect, which compelled other states across the West and indeed the country to introduce similar bills that highlight the immense value of the outdoor economy, and how public lands lie at its very core. It strengthens the collective voice around the message that all public lands matter.
The great state of Colorado is well known for vital resources provided by the outdoors, including clean water, a rich wildlife habitat, and endless recreation. Beyond these values, public lands enhance our mental health and wellbeing, provide educational opportunities for our kids, and support so many local businesses through the outdoor industry and related travel activity.
How You Can Get Involved
Colorado Parks and Wildlife, along with several state and federal partner agencies, invite the public to come together on the 3rd Saturday of May to take part in the festivities. The importance of public lands to Colorado’s economy is immense and should be shared, with an opportunity to take part in stewardship projects, free events, and outdoor adventures all across the state.
Colorado Public Lands Day is a great opportunity to give back to the beautiful and varied public landscapes, salute the state’s heritage, recognize the unique and diverse history, and bring people from all local communities together to enjoy our public lands. For those who live here, the majority feel that the ability to enjoy public lands is a significant reason why they live in the West. This day is a wonderful chance for them to show their support for the outdoor spaces they love.
What better way to take part in Colorado Public Lands Day by lacing up your hiking boots and getting outside to explore a magnificent natural landscape? From camping to hiking to mountain biking to backcountry skiing and more, you are sure to find something waiting to satiate your desire for natural beauty on Colorado’s public lands!
Some of the most spectacular scenery, as well as places that celebrate our vibrant culture and rich history can be found at the National Parks located in Colorado: Rocky Mountain, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison Naitonal Parks!
Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who studied under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, he's creating iconic WPA-style posters for each of our National Parks.
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