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New federal conservation plan, not all new in Colorado

Red Rocks Open Space
Posted at 6:22 PM, May 06, 2021

COLORADO SPRINGS — A new national conservation plan, called the America the Beautiful initiative was announced by the Biden-Harris administration. It sets a goal to restore and conserve 30% of the country's public lands and water by 2030. Many Colorado leaders, including Governor Polis say it is important to the state.

Colorado is known for its natural beauty. In recent years, there is also notoriety for leading the nation in growth. "This is not either or, but what is especially important is that as we grow that we are taking the time to set aside those special landscapes that are part of our quality of life,” said Palmer Land Conservancy, CEO, Rebecca Jewett. People need homes and infrastructure, but the reason many are moving to Colorado is for the open space to experience. "We need to stay ahead of all of these pressures on the land, once we lose our natural scenery it's gone, we don't ever bring it back."

The new America the Beautiful initiative calls for conserving 30% of public land by 2030. It is ambitious for some states, Jewett sees it as more of a call to action in Colorado. "In fact, if you look at the state of Colorado we have 40% of our land is publicly owned, so you could say we've met the goal. But have we met the goal, we haven't."

The plan calls for collaboration between federal and local groups. "Identify the goals, identifying the priorities which include both public land and private land," said Jewett. "What they contribute to our quality of life and our economy is tremendous."

The new America the Beautiful initiative is not necessarily new to Colorado. Instead, it adds emphasis to plans and projects already in the works. “An initiative that raises awareness, hopefully drives more dollars, puts collaborations together to increase the scale of conservation, I think is tremendously important to our area,” said Jewett.