Gov. Jared Polis signs a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the shared stewardship of forest land.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday signed a framework for managing Colorado’s 24.2 million acres of forest lands — nearly 16 million of which the federal government owns.

The Shared Stewardship Agreement promotes several mutual themes, among which are ecological restoration, protecting water and promoting sustainable recreation. As of October, six other states had signed memoranda of understanding with the Forest Service.

National forests cover more than 20 percent of the state. Colorado’s Office of Economic Development & International Trade estimates that Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy produces $28 billion in consumer spending annually.

“We recognize that Colorado’s natural resources are threatened, and the challenges before us require a shared approach,” said Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Jim Hubbard.

The initiative followed an August 2018 decision by the federal government to work closer with states in protecting watersheds, communities and economies.

Among the promises made, the state and federal government will protect sacred tribal sites and preserve cultural resources, make decisions that incorporate state and local data and expertise, and develop a five-year work program.

The Forest Service is responsible for managing public lands, wild and scenic rivers, and invasive species. It also has a role in fighting wildfires, alongside other governmental and tribal agencies.

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