STATEWIDE – The Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition (COSC) has released the Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Best Practices Guide, a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive resource to help outdoor organizations more effectively recruit, retain, and equip volunteers to work with land managers on effective and critically important stewardship efforts, such as building trails and restoring habitat.
The guide is part of the COSC’s Statewide Stewardship Initiative (SSI), an effort established in 2017 and funded by a $100,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). In addition to the Best Practices Guide, the SSI has launched a statewide database and map of outdoor stewardship organizations to better connect land managers with volunteers and job candidates, and will also develop a unified framework for organizations to track and report on-the-ground work to better demonstrate collective impact.
“The guide is being released at a time when Colorado’s stewardship needs are at an all-time high,” explained Ann Baker Easley, executive director of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC), which helped develop the Guide. “While tourism and recreation industries are booming, land management agencies don’t have the resources to keep up with the impacts caused by this level of exponential use.”
The effects of this imbalance are clear: outdoor recreation contributes $28 billion to the state’s economy, yet popular destinations such as Hanging Lake and Maroon Bells must consider restrictions – including permits, visitor caps, and fees – to manage overuse and maintain the health and beauty of these areas.
In addition, a recent Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) survey found that 79 percent of respondents indicated that active stewardship of outdoor resources is a top priority for the state, outranking both financial stability and land and water conservation.
The Guide covers four topics (volunteer management and training, partnering effectively with land managers, safety and risk management, and data collection and impact reporting) that provide practical information to help organizations of all sizes address these challenges and maintain the outdoors, allowing the state’s trails and parks to withstand increased use, avoid future restrictions, and continue to serve as an important cultural and economic resource for Coloradans.
“The COSC’s statewide stewardship movement helps ensure that Coloradans can continue to enjoy the quality of life we value and the many benefits of our parks, trails, and other outdoor recreation areas,” said Chris Castilian, Executive Director of GOCO. “Taking care of our land, water, and wildlife habitat into the future is a top priority for GOCO and its many partners in the outdoor recreation and conservation fields.”
Organizations may view or download the Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Best Practices Guide at www.outdoorstewardship.org/guide. The guide was developed collaboratively by experts in the field of natural resources management, including leaders from Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Jefferson County Open Space, Douglas County Open Space, the Bureau of Land Management, HistoriCorps, and the U.S. Forest Service, with additional guidance and support from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV), RiversEdge West, Trails 2000, the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI), and Leave No Trace.
For more information about the COSC and SSI, visit www.voc.org/cosc. To learn more about GOCO, visit www.goco.org.
About the Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition (COSC)
The Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition (COSC) is a collaboration of nonprofit stewardship organizations and federal, state, and local land managers that promotes stewardship of Colorado’s outdoors, elevating the awareness and engagement of all Coloradans in caring for the state’s outdoor spaces. Hosted by Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the Coalition has been working since 2010 to organize forums for stakeholder organizations and to document and convey the collective impact of outdoor volunteer stewardship. To learn more about the COSC, visit www.voc.org/cosc.
About Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,000 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit www.GOCO.org for more information.