Policy Update

Colorado Passes Public Lands Day



NCEL Point of Contact

Dylan McDowell
Executive Director


This session, the Colorado State Legislature passed a bill to establish a public lands day in the state. The bill was sponsored by State Senator Kerry Donovan, and passed on May 11, 2016. Recent years have seen increased pressure from anti-environmental groups to force a shift of ownership or control of public lands from the federal government to the states. Public lands are very popular for recreation such as hunting, fishing, camping and boating, and the outdoor recreation economy alone brings in over $646 billion each year.

  • The Colorado bill is found here: Senate Bill 21, an act establishing the third Saturday in May as Public Lands Day in Colorado.
  • A a recent survey by Colorado College showed that 59 percent of residents oppose state takeover of public lands, and 77 percent say national lands are good for the state’s economy.
  • According to a 2014 report by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department, outdoor recreation generates more than $34 billion in economic activity each year and creates more than 300,000 jobs within the state.

Other states that have passed bills in support of public lands include:

  • New Mexico: The New Mexico State Senate passed Senate Memorial 11, recognizing and honoring the legacy of New Mexico’s public lands. SM 11 was sponsored by State Senator William Soules; it passed unanimously in February of 2016.
  • Ohio: Ohio passed a House Resolution recognizing the National Public Lands Day, September 26, 2016, HR 120 on September 26, 2016.
  • Washington: The Washington State Senate passed Senate Resolution 8613 in 2015, relating to the importance of the outdoors.