2019 Conservation Scorecard

Lands, Water, and Wildlife

From city parks to mountain peaks, Coloradans’ love for our outdoors runs deep. But our wild places and cascading waters contribute more than recreation opportunities, they’re the lifeblood of our economies, communities, and Colorado way of life. This year the legislature passed a collection of policies that will preserve our lands and waters for generations.

Our Colorado Way of Life

A whopping 70 percent of Colorado voters consider themselves to be “conservationists,” and so they expect their elected officials to protect the places they love. This year, the Colorado legislature passed commonsense lands, water, and wildlife policies that were years in the making with strong, bipartisan support.

One of the best examples of this was a bill to protect our rivers and streams from mining pollution. Legislators had tried to pass this bill previously, but continued to run into roadblocks. And, a bill to better protect private lands with conservation easements had seen compromise in previous years but this year a strong bill passed.

In 2019, under pro-conservation leadership, several key lands, water, and wildlife policies became law. And these bills were often passed with the support of legislators whose districts are reliant on these issues as economic drivers.

Bills Tracked

House Bill 1026 | Supporting Colorado Parks and Wildlife (Parks And Wildlife Violations Of Law)

Colorado has a long history of leadership in natural resource management and outdoor recreation thanks in large part to agencies like Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). But without adequate authorities, regulations that protect our lands and wildlife are hard to enforce. For CPW it has been at least 15 years — and in some cases, decades — since many of the agency’s fines have been adjusted. This bill updates CPW’s fine structure to discourage illegal activity, ensuring responsible recreation and ecosystem health for all Coloradans.

Sponsors: Representatives Marc Catlin and Julie McCluskie, Senators Donald Coram and Kerry Donovan

House Vote: Passed 51-13

Senate Vote: Passed 23-12

Signed by Governor: June 3, 2019

Pro-Environment Vote: Yes

House Bill 1264 | Conservation Easement Improvements (Conservation Easement Tax Credit Modifications)

Colorado’s lands are central to our outdoor heritage and recreation economy, and conservation easements that protect private lands play an important role in preserving the state we love. This measure supports further conservation of the open spaces, waterways, and wildlife habitat that define our state by extending and improving upon Colorado’s conservation easement program.

Sponsors: Representatives Dylan Roberts and James Wilson, Senators Faith Winter and Kerry Donovan

House Vote: Passed 50-14

Senate Vote: Passed 30-5

Signed by Governor: June 3, 2019

Pro-Environment Vote: Yes

House Bill 1050 | Water Savings Through Xeriscaping (Encourage Use Of Xeriscape In Common Areas)

In Colorado’s dry climate, we need increased water conservation, more flexible water management, and better protections to secure our water future. This bill promotes water-efficient landscaping while ensuring that property managers and managers of park districts and open space adhere to water conservation requirements.

Sponsors: Representative Brianna Titone, Senators Kevin Priola and Faith Winter

House Vote: Passed 45-19

Senate Vote: Passed 25-9

Signed by Governor: March 7, 2019

Pro-Environment Vote: Yes

House Bill 1113 | Mining Reform (Protect Water Quality Adverse Mining Impacts)

More than 1,600 miles of Colorado's rivers are polluted from toxic mining pollution and runoff. This bill ensures that Colorado’s water and communities are protected from future environmental and economic impacts of hard-rock mining by requiring hard-rock mining companies to prove they can pay to treat polluted water prior to operating a new mine. It also eliminates the practice of self-bonding, which put taxpayers on the hook for mining pollution.

Sponsors: Representatives Dylan Roberts and Barbara McLachlan, Senator Kerry Donovan

House Vote: Passed 46-18

Senate Vote: Passed 22-13

Signed by Governor: April 4, 2019

Pro-Environment Vote: Yes

House Bill 1218 | Instream Flows (Loaned Water For Instream Flows To Improve Environment)

More than one in ten Americans—some 40 million people—depend on water from the Colorado River Basin. This bill would have helped keep our rivers and streams healthy and flowing while meeting our water needs by allowing more water to stay in them via expansion of Colorado’s incredibly successful “instream flow” program.

Sponsors: Representative Dylan Roberts, Senator Kerry Donovan

House Vote: Passed 41-22

Senate Vote: Failed in Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

Signed by Governor: N/A

Pro-Environment Vote: Yes

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