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Colorado State Policy March Update

Posted: 03/05/2020
by Ian Stafford

Welcome to March! We have worked our way through the slog of winter and will welcome spring very soon. The Legislative session is nearly halfway done, and things are only getting busier. Our involvement at the statehouse continues to be influential in highlighting the benefits of river recreation, as well as the recreation industry at large. We have had a number of successful capitol visit days and would love to get more members up to the statehouse to meet with elected officials, and experience the Capitol first hand. Democracy works best when you're having conversations about what is important to you with your elected officials, so come take part!

1. Legislation To Keep An Eye On

The legislature is storming along passing bills after their third hearings at a blistering pace. We're about to move into the portion of the legislative session where the budget will get determined, which will be the cause of many debates and conversations. American Whitewater supports the Governor's request for $10m in funding for the Colorado Water Plan. This will see the money get split evenly with $5m going directly to Basin Roundtables to distribute, and $5m going to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to be administered through Water Plan Grants.

In terms of legislation, here are a couple of bills that American Whitewater is in favor of, and encourage you to reach out to legislators to let them know what your thoughts on the bill are…


Outdoor Recreation Industry Office: The bill creates the outdoor recreation industry office in the office of economic development. The director of the outdoor recreation industry office is designated by and reports to the director of the office of economic development.

  • What it means for you: This bill will permanently authorize the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office within the Office of Economic Development and International Tourism. The office has been in existence since Gov. Hickenlooper created it in 2015. American Whitewater is invested in the success of this office to continue growing initiatives that expand outdoor recreation in the state.
  • Current status: Passed through the House committee with a 9-2 vote, and will be in the House Appropriations Committee tomorrow.


Backcountry Search and Rescue In Colorado: The bill defines "backcountry search and rescue" as the utilization, training, and support of responders, with their specialized equipment, to locate, provide assistance to, and remove to safety individuals who are lost, injured, stranded, or entrapped, generally in remote areas of the state.

  • What it means for you: This bill will authorize the state government to conduct a study and develop recommendations on ways to better support the state's search and rescue organizations (mostly volunteer-based) with resources to conduct searches, support physical or mental health for rescuers, as well as provide public education and training.
  • Current Status: Passed through the Senate committee with a 5-0 vote, and will be in the Senate Appropriations Committee in the coming weeks.

2. Capitol Visit days

Our official Capitol Visits are off and running, and we couldn't be more delighted by the outcomes. Next week we will be partnering with Business for Water Stewardship, Audubon Society, The Colorado River District, and Colorado Water Conservation Board on a river focused capitol day. These visits provide AW members and partners of the organization with the opportunity of coming to the capitol, meeting with your elected officials, and an experiential understanding of seeing how the political process works.

Please consider joining us on the following dates...

* Tuesday, March 10th, 8:00 am - 1:00 pm (Partnering with The Colorado River District, Business For Water Stewardship, Colorado Water Conservation Board, and Audubon Society) this event will require a separate email to RSVP, please reply to me directly if interested

* Thursday, March 26th, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

* Monday, March 30th, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

To join in on one of these capitol visits, please RSVP right here!

Please know that if you can't make these dates work, but are interested in coming to the capitol, please send me an email to get a visit scheduled! Share these dates with your river community, and get the word out there that we need you at the capitol (ps there is free lunch!)

3. Resources

Colorado Policy Pathways - American Whitewater's approach toward working on policy at the state level in Colorado

Colorado Find My Legislator - A great tool to give you the best contact information to contact your state legislator

Federal Find My Legislator - The best way to find how to contact your two senators and federal representative

Colorado Water Plan Projects - Curious where all this money for the Colorado Water Plan is going? You can find great information about many of the projects taking place right here

Colorado Bill Tracker - Curious what the status of a bill in the Colorado legislature is? Check out this great tool to track its progress through the statehouse

Outdoor Alliance Advocacy 101 - If you're curious about how to get more involved at the federal level, check out this great series from our friends over at Outdoor Alliance

As always, a big thank you to each and every one of you for your continued support for river recreation! We can't do this work without the support of our members and partners. Please know you can always reach out if you have any questions, or want to make sure something is on our radar. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the ski season and get ready to be out on the river! 

Ambrose Tuscano
Soda Springs, CA

Associated Projects

Colorado Policy Projects
A collection of policy projects and resources that pertain to our Colorado Policy Program