As the state's largest and best-known environmental group, Conservation Colorado has spread its figurative branches from the mountains to the plains for some time. But now it's putting down roots in the central mountains, opening up an office in Carbondale.
In a press release Thursday, Conservation Colorado called the Roaring Fork Valley an "ecologically unique and politically important region." And Aspen and many of the surrounding mountain towns are as rich in resources as they are in those with fat bank accounts to support such causes.
“As Conservation Colorado’s organizer in the region, I’m excited to bring the voices of my neighbors along the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys to the state Capitol and other decision-making spaces," Central Mountains organizer Erin Riccio said. "Together we can fight climate change, protect our lands, waterways, and wildlife, and stand up against powerful interests."
Conservation Colorado pointed out some of the ways the Roaring Fork Valley is a conservation leader:
- Glenwood Springs and Aspen are the only Colorado municipalities powered 100% by renewable energy.
- 18 oil and gas leases were canceled along the Thompson Divide, "an important landscape renowned for its hunting and recreation opportunities."
- The Crystal River Management Plan was created to to better manage water use and and enhance the river's "ecological integrity."
- The Roaring Fork Valley Transportation Authority has a goal to electrify its bus fleet.
“I’m thrilled that Conservation Colorado has established a permanent presence in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said in a statement. “Their focus on state and national policy will be a great asset to the robust conservation community that already calls this area home.”
Riccio is tasked with working with local leaders to continue progress on:
- Working to help pass the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, which would help protect about 400,000 acres of public land in the state (the federal legislation was introduced in January by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder).
- Engaging with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on the health and safety hazards of oil and gas activities to better protect nearby communities.
- Helping implement the Climate Action Plan passed by the legislature last spring, to reduce the state's carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.
- Finding the money necessary to fund the $20 billion Colorado Water Plan. Most of that tab be paid for by water providers as they develop water projects, but the state is on the hook for an etstimated $3 billion, or about $100 million per year beginning in 2020.