The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife has a new nine-member "outdoor equity board," intended to bring in representation from communities that have faced barriers to access in Colorado's outdoors. The board also oversees the Outdoor Equity grant program.
The board is the result of House Bill 1318, and members were recommended by the coalition that was involved in the passage of the legislation.
“I am proud and excited for this diverse group of Coloradans to serve on Colorado’s first Outdoor Equity Board,” said Gov. Jared Polis in a news release. “The bipartisan Outdoor Equity Fund is a great chance to invest in programs for Colorado kids so they can see the wonders and benefits of nature. This transformational fund will not only help get more Coloradans to recreate and play in our beautiful great outdoors but help a new more diverse generation build meaningful connections with the land.”
The board is one of the few state boards with a youth requirement. HB 1318 calls for three board members who are either eligible to attend public school in Colorado, or who are no longer eligible to be in public school and under the age of 26.
Inaugural two-year board member appointments include:
- Benilda Samuels - impacted by and has experience in racial justice issues
- Richard Williams - impacted by and has experience in environmental justice issues
- Loretta Pineda - experience working in conservation issues
Inaugural four-year board member appointments include:
- Michal Rosenoer - experience in providing outdoor education programs
- Jon Kreamelmeyer - impacted by and with experience in disability-accessible outdoor programming
- Edwin Alan Coleman - impacted by and has experience working in equity for individuals who identify as LGBTQ+
Inaugural youth board member appointments include:
- Brayhan Fernando Reveles Olivas - two-year term
- Yesica Chavez - two-year term
- Yandel Castillo - one-year term
The Outdoor Equity grant program, with $1.5 million in 2021-22 from lottery proceeds, is for organizations that use the money "to engage eligible youth and their families by reducing barriers to Colorado’s outdoors, creating pathways for formal or informal conservation of Colorado’s outdoors, or offering environmental and Colorado outdoor-based educational opportunities," according to the governor's office. The fund will eventually receive $3 million by 2023-24 and every year thereafter.
“One of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s key goals is to help people live life outside, giving folks the ability to explore and enjoy our state’s natural resources,” said Dan Prenzlow, CPW Director. “This is an exciting opportunity for this board and CPW to help ensure that the state’s outdoors, and the tools to partner with us in conserving them, are equitably available to all Coloradans for generations to come.”
"Establishing the Outdoor Equity Board with individuals demonstrating such expertise, passion, and years of combined experience is the first step of many in working towards more equitable, inclusive, and accessible outdoor spaces for all Coloradans, We are proud of the hard work and diligence of our coalition, and are looking forward to working with and supporting the board as they engage in this vital work for Colorado youth and their families," said Jared Bynum, Next 100 Colorado, member of the Outdoor Equity Coalition.
"I am thrilled to see the Outdoor Equity Board come to life. The members of this board will bring their lived experience and their expertise to advise Colorado Parks and Wildlife and make Colorado's outdoors more accessible to all," said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, one of the sponsors of HB 1318.
Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, added, "The Outdoor Equity Board is an essential step towards ensuring all Coloradans have greater access to our beautiful outdoors. I want to thank the Coalition, and my colleague Representative Herod for their commitment to the vision of an accessible Colorado. I am looking forward to seeing the opportunities and exceptional conservation that will be funded by the Outdoor Equity Fund."