State Spotlight: Colorado

Colorado is a state rich in natural beauty, from the snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the rushing waters of the Arkansas River. These landscapes are natural treasures that need to be preserved for future generations. Fortunately, conservation efforts have protected wide expanses of land in the state, providing both economic and scenic benefits for residents and visitors alike in the process.

Land conservation is a distinctly valuable tool for preserving open spaces, wildlife habitats and access to natural resources. Colorado’s government has repeatedly demonstrated it understands that “conservation of the state’s natural and agricultural resources [is] sound public policy.” Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), established by a 1992 constitutional amendment, funds parks, trails and other projects that protect wildlife habitats and valuable land resources throughout the state.

The state government also created the Conservation Easement Tax Credit Program in 2000, which allows landowners who donate a conservation easement on their property to claim a state tax credit.

A July 2017 study conducted by Colorado State University provides concrete data underscoring the value of investing in conservation. Since 1995, the state of Colorado has invested approximately $1.1 billion in conservation easements, and residents and tourists have received between $5.5 billion and $13.7 billion in benefits. In other words, for every $1 the state has invested in conservation efforts, it has resulted in between $4 and $12 in benefits, including “natural filtration and purification of water supplies, groundwater recharge, flood control and habitat for fish and wildlife.”

Notably, Colorado’s efforts have led to more than 1.5 million acres of valuable open lands being conserved. That’s in addition to conserving:

  • 300,000 acres of prime farmland
  • 270,000 acres of habitat for elk during severe winter conditions
  • 4,100 miles of stream, creek or river frontage

Colorado’s conservation efforts are a proven success. Similar programs should be expanded to other states across the nation to ensure the well-being of our country and our communities for generations to come.

To view the complete study, click here.

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