DENVER – Colorado officially has a day set aside to celebrate the abundance of public lands enjoyed by Coloradans and tourists from around the world.
Gov. John Hickenlooper read a proclamation Wednesday at the Capitol that named the third Saturday in May as Public Lands Day in the state ”forever after.”
For 2017, it means May 20 will be the day for celebration for such wonders as Mesa Verde National Park and the San Juan National Forest.
The proclamation gives Colorado the unique distinction of being the first to set aside a day in recognition of the recreational, ecological and economic resource its public lands represent.
Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail and who championed the bill that led to the proclamation, said the emphasis of the day has changed since Senate Bill 21 was signed into law in last year because of turnover in the federal government.
“We were waiting to see what would happen with the new administration in D.C., they’ve taken some probably more aggressive steps than we’re anticipating around transfer of public lands,” Donovan said.
Last month’s signing of an executive order to review of national monuments designated in last 21 years makes Donovan anticipate some Coloradans will take the day to express their frustration with the new administration, though that was not the Legislature’s intention.
“While this day wasn’t meant to be political, I think we’re seeing a shift in people looking for opportunities for public activism,” she said.
In Southwest Colorado, there are a number of events scheduled, including a gathering at the north end of Vallecito Reservoir, a hike up Elbert Creek Trail near Needles Country Square, a gathering at the Powerhouse Science Center in Durango and another at the welcome center in Cortez.
A complete list of public lands day events can be found at copubliclandsday.com.