Bipartisanship and Public Lands

Chris Chang

Bipartisanship is not completely dead – even if it doesn’t feel that way. Partisan gridlock is one of the great frustrations of modern politics, and it often feels as though there are no longer issues that exist outside of the Democrat-Republican, liberal-conservative binaries.

Fortunately, there is one issue in which we see some of the best bipartisan leadership: protecting public lands. Here in Colorado we are blessed with beautiful natural spaces in which to relax, recreate, and rejuvenate- and those spaces are enjoyed by liberals and conservatives alike. The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act of 2014 was a quintessential example of bipartisan legislation that was only made possible through a diverse coalition of stakeholders, from mountain bikers to snowmobilers, rafters to local businessmen, Democrats to Republicans. This group of stakeholders, together with their legislators from both sides of the aisle, crafted a bill designed to meet all of the needs of the local community. Compromise was heavy and hard at times, but the end result is beautiful public land protected for future generations of all walks of life to enjoy.

As an avid rock climber, mountain biker, hiker, and sometimes even 4-wheeler, I am no stranger to the outdoors. My passion for public lands protection began as a selfish interest – I wanted to protect the spaces in which I played and recuperated from the stresses of everyday life. As I started digging into these projects, however, I realized that public lands protection is about more than recreation. Colorado has a $13.2 billion outdoor recreation industry that supports more than 125,000 jobs across the state, and this industry relies heavily on public lands. After all, rafters float public rivers, hunters use public forests, mountain bikers ride public trails, and rock climbers climb public crags. These people hire local outfits to show them around, and then when they’re done playing they dine at local restaurants and stay in local hotels; public lands are part of the bedrock of the Colorado economy. As well, access to public lands is one of the best parts about living in Colorado and one of the reasons that many people including me moved here. There is no “typical” public lands user, and that’s the best part about public lands; no matter who you are there is a way for you to enjoy these spaces. Here at RBI we like to say that we specialize in doing Good Things for Good People. Protecting public lands truly is the embodiment of this philosophy. We protect these places so that everyone – regardless of class, creed, or political affiliation – can continue enjoying this beautiful state for generations to come.

RBI Strategies and Research

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Denver, CO 80202-4916

Phone: 303.832.2444