The Statewide Stewardship Initiative (SSI), directed through the Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition and supported with initial funding through Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), is a statewide effort aimed at building the vital long-term stewardship infrastructure Colorado needs to sustain its outdoor recreation and natural resources. The goals of the initiative are to establish and disseminate best practices and tools that foster strong and sustainable programs capable of responding to Colorado’s growing stewardship needs.
Colorado’s public lands are at a crossroads. With a rapidly growing population, increased demands on Colorado’s open spaces and public lands, and diminishing public funding, the need for responsible stewardship of our state’s special places is urgent. Consider these facts...
There are nearly 30 million acres of public land in Colorado or approximately 45 percent of the total state land area. Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado's Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, 2014.
Colorado’s population is forecast to grow from 5.2 to almost 7 million by 2030. Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Population by Age and Gender, 2012.
The top reasons Coloradans choose to live here are the state’s clean environment, access to public lands and outdoor recreation opportunities, and residents’ ability to maintain a healthy outdoor lifestyle. Colorado College, Conservation in the West Poll, 2015.
87.5% of federal land managers have experienced declines in both funding and staffing. Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition, Caring for Colorado Public Lands, March, 2014.
$34.5 billion of Colorado’s economy depends on the outdoors. Southwick Associates, The Economic Contributions of Outdoor Recreation in Colorado: A regional and county-level Analysis, November 18, 2013.
Outdoor volunteerism and volunteer stewardship organizations provide an important source of support in maintaining recreational land use, rehabilitating areas damaged by floods and fire, educating the public about natural resources, and cultivating leaders who care for public lands, but barriers exist. The quality, scalability and impact are hampered by lack of coordination, inconsistent work practices and trust gaps between organizations and land managers.
Public interest in outdoor volunteerism is significant. Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition, Caring for Colorado Public Lands, March, 2014.
Land managers lack the capacity to train and deploy volunteers for vital land stewardship projects. Ibid.
Outdoor stewardship organizations lack resources and guidance to improve volunteer training and participation at the scale needed. Ibid.
Increase the quality and quantity of statewide stewardship projects;
Increase the collective impact of stewardship organizations by advancing collaborative projects at scale;
Increase the diversity of stewardship volunteers; and,
Engender a stewardship ethic in Colorado’s citizens.
In March 2018, the Statewide Stewardship Initiative completed work funded by Great Outdoors Colorado that:
- Launched an online database of Colorado outdoor stewardship organizations and asset map;
- Drafted and released an Outdoor Stewardship Standards and Best Practices Guide; and
- Developed a Unified Metrics and Freporting Framework.
In 2019, the Statewide Stewardship Initiative continues its work on the following:
- A series of 6 regional workshops in the first quarter intended to enable participants to:
- Help shape the future of the state's stewardship community
- Learn about the newly published Outdoor Stewardship Best Practices Guide
- Receive training on a new universal mapping and accomplishment database
- Network with colleagues and make connections for future collaborative efforts, including joint fundraising
- Gain insights into emerging funding opportunities through Great Outdoor Colorado's stewardship grant program
- Finish work on a Unified Metrics and Reporting Framework that will be tested statewide at the end of 2019.