Governor Signs Law Creating Outdoor Equity Program

Governor Jared Polis signed into law June 21 legislation that creates the Outdoor Equity Grant Program, which will increase access and opportunity for underserved youth and their families to experience Colorado’s open spaces, state parks, public lands, and other outdoor areas.

“Today really brings together Colorado’s longstanding historic leadership in conservation with innovative ways that we can make sure to achieve the goal of inclusion and make sure our beautiful wild areas, like the ones we are at today, are accessible to everybody,” said Governor Polis at the signing ceremony at the Lincoln Hills Flyfishing Club.

The bill, HB21-1318, establishes an outdoor equity board within Colorado Parks and Wildlife responsible for the governance of the outdoor equity grant program. The board may award grants to initiatives that engage eligible youth and their families by reducing barriers to the Colorado outdoors, creating pathways for formal or informal conservation of the Colorado outdoors, or offering environmental and Colorado outdoor-based educational opportunities.

“This new grant program will make sure that diverse and equitable access to our outdoors is a reality for youth from across our state, opening our doors to provide a lifetime of being able to enjoy the great outdoors for the diverse youth of Colorado,” added Polis.

“Today we are putting millions of dollars into the outdoors for equity. That’s huge,” said Representative Leslie Herod, who sponsored the bill. “This is our first and a historic investment, and I am so glad to be a part of it.”

Next 100 Colorado, a coalition facilitated by the Keystone Policy Center, helped assemble a coalition of non-governmental organizations, policymakers, and individuals supporting the program.

“On behalf of Next 100 Colorado, this is a really diverse coalition with over 60 local, state, and national organizations. Thank you for your support in improving access and equity and outdoors,” said Jason Swann, western lands policy analyst at Western Resource Advocates.

To learn more about Next 100 Colorado and the work it is doing to establish a just and inclusive parks and public lands system, listen to the two episodes of the Keynotes podcast below.