National Wildlife Federation Seeks Bipartisan Endorsement of Keeping Public Lands Public
DENVER – The National Wildlife Federation announced Thursday that Gail Schwartz, the challenger in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District race, has officially endorsed its statement of principles that seeks support from political leaders to keep public lands in public hands.
The National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliates have asked congressional and legislative candidates across the nation, if they are elected, to oppose large-scale sales or transfers of public lands or attempts to undermine the management of lands that belong to all Americans. Forty-two sportsmen’s organizations from across the country, including the Colorado Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation, also sent letters to the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns, as well as the other presidential candidates, seeking the same commitments.
The National Wildlife Federation has yet to receive a response from the campaign of Scott Tipton, the incumbent in the 3rd District, but will continue seeking one.
Sportsmen’s and conservation organizations stress the importance of bipartisan support for public lands. A small but vocal group of lawmakers at the state and federal levels is trying to dismantle the public-lands heritage built over more than a century by Americans from across the political spectrum.
“Defending America’s public lands shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Our public-lands heritage was built by leaders of both parties. People of all backgrounds enjoy our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, waterways and backcountry,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund. “Working to protect our public-lands legacy and all it contributes to our nation’s economy, health and well-being is a great antidote for the divisiveness that has afflicted politics and our public discourse.”
In Colorado, public lands help drive an outdoor recreation industry that annually generates $34.5 billion in economic activity and supports 313,000 jobs. A bipartisan poll released earlier this year by Colorado College found that 77 percent of Colorado voters believe national public lands contribute to the state economy and a majority of voters of all affiliations say a candidate’s stance on conservation matters.
And amid the controversy over public lands, state lawmakers this year passed a law creating an annual Colorado Public Lands Day.
“A lot of us live in Colorado for the hiking, rafting, fishing, hunting, skiing, camping and the chance to see wildlife, from bighorn sheep to herds of elk streaming over hills,” said Bill Dvorak, the National Wildlife Federation’s public-lands organizer and Colorado’s first licensed rafting outfitter. “A majority of Coloradans spend time out on public lands. What we have here is special and we need political leaders to work with us to keep it that way by defeating attempts to sell or remove public lands from public hands.”