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By Jennifer Churchill
Special to The SUN
The final 2014 Colorado Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), the blueprint for sustaining Colorado’s outdoors heritage for current and future generations, was released in April.
Outdoor recreation helps define the quality of life in Colorado and is a significant factor in the state’s economy. Studies conducted as part of the 2014 SCORP estimate that outdoor recreation in Colorado contributes more than $34.5 billion in annual economic activity, creates 313,000 jobs and generates $4.9 million in local, state and federal taxes annually.
There are nearly 30 million acres of publicly owned land in Colorado, with a majority of these lands open to outdoor recreational pursuits. Surveys conducted as part of the SCORP indicate that 90 percent of Coloradans participated in some form of outdoor recreation in Colorado over the past year.
To proactively manage critical outdoor recreation resources for future generations, Colorado Parks and Wildlife worked with a 44-member steering committee to develop the 2014-2018 Colorado Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. This committee included representation from local, state and federal agencies, nonprofit groups, outdoor industry associations, the health care industry and similar interests.
Building on the nationally-acclaimed 2008 SCORP, the 2014 SCORP aims to guide outdoor recreation providers, decision-makers and stakeholders in recreation management and policy decisions over the next five years.
“The connection between Colorado’s outdoor recreation opportunities, healthy lifestyles and our economy is undeniable,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “The 2014 SCORP highlights the wide array of recreation amenities across the state and identifies a variety of innovative strategies that merit additional exploration as potential ways to address the many challenges and opportunities that affect outdoor recreation.”
The 2014 SCORP identifies five statewide outdoor recreation priority areas where attention and energy should be focused: outdoor recreation education, funding and financial sustainability, healthy lifestyles and communities, integration of outdoor recreation interests, and stewardship. Recommended actions are identified for each priority area to provide guidance for outdoor recreation stakeholders.
“SCORP is more than a planning document,” said Bob Broscheid, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “It provides a framework of practices and partnerships that will enable future generations to continue to enjoy and benefit from Colorado’s amazing outdoor recreation resources. We encourage all entities that appreciate Colorado’s outdoor recreation heritage to explore and utilize the SCORP to support their outdoor recreation planning activities into the future.”
The full 2014 SCORP can be found online at coloradoscorp.org. If there are particular questions related to the SCORP, contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife by email at email@example.com or phone at (303) 869-1350.
The Colorado SCORP will also help determine priorities for allocating the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants administered by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife trails program. Since 1965, over 60,000 acres in Colorado have been secured for outdoor recreation and conservation purposes through an estimated $60.5 million in LWCF grants. The SCORP is the five-year planning document that each state is required to develop to remain eligible for LWCF appropriations.