Polis Administration in Partnership with the Legislature Makes Significant Strides to Advance State Energy Goals and Enhance Water, Wildlife, & Outdoor Recreation Resources

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Denver - This year, the Colorado General Assembly and Governor Polis once again made clear that conserving our state’s natural resources is a priority for Coloradans. The legislature approved more than $90 million in investments and advanced landmark legislation that works to protect sensitive species and habitats, conserve land and water resources, and facilitate nation-leading, sustainable energy production that carves the path to meeting the goals of Colorado’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap.

“These legislative initiatives help to push us towards our goals laid out in the State Wildlife Action Plan, the Colorado Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap, and the Colorado Water Plan, and will move Colorado into the future and towards our mission of developing, preserving, and enhancing our public lands, water, energy resources, and other natural resources in the state for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future residents and visitors, said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources

“The challenges before us demand bold action, and the Department of Natural Resources is proud to lead our state towards healthier forests and watersheds, a cleaner energy portfolio, and a more sustainable and accessible outdoor recreation economy that is core to many Colorado communities. I want to thank the bi-partisan support and legislative champions of our bills as well as the numerous Coloradans and stakeholders who took time out of their day to support many of our legislative priorities.”

Major highlights include:

Protecting and Conserving our Water Resources

HB24-1435 Colorado Water Conservation Board Annual Projects Bill
This bipartisan annual DNR bill funds critical investments in water and infrastructure projects across the state. This year’s package contains over $220 million in funding, including $23M in Water Plan Grant funding; $2M for Turf Replacement Program; $2M for Innovative Water Forecasting; $4M for Drought Planning; $165M in loan funds for water supply projects; and $20M for Shoshone Water Right acquisition on the Colorado River.

SB24-005 Prohibition on Non-Functional Turf, Artificial Turf, and Invasive Plant Species
This bill will prevent a local government from installing, planting or placing or allowing any person to install, plant or place, any nonfunctional turf, artificial turf, or invasive plant species as part of any new project or development after January 2026. It also prevents the installation of non-functional turf at state facilities. This bill is a bold step in securing Colorado’s water future by helping our communities grow with water-efficient and climate resilient urban landscapes.

Moving into the Energy Future

HB24-1346 Energy & Carbon Management Regulation
This DNR-initiated bill fills some gaps in the Energy and Carbon Management Commission’s (ECMC’s) authority to regulate energy technologies like carbon sequestration, and strengthens enforcement authority over oil and gas operations. The law paves the way for the development of protective and effective energy development in the State.

SB24-212, Local Govs Renewable Energy Projects
This bill seeks to facilitate deployment of renewable energy in the state by providing local and tribal governments and industry with additional resources and support to make informed decisions about the design, siting and permitting of renewable energy projects. The bill leans on the expertise of staff in ECMC and CPW to help in meeting the state’s climate and energy goals and protect our wildlife resources.

SB24-230, Oil and Gas Production Fee
This is a major step forward for climate resiliency and biodiversity in Colorado. In order to partially offset oil and gas operations’ harm to lands and wildlife, it authorizes new fees on oil and gas production to fund comprehensive investments at Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), in addition to significant funding for transit and rail.

SB24-229, Ozone Mitigation Measures 
The bill makes significant strides to reduce air pollution in the state by improving the oil and gas permitting process, strengthening ECMC’s enforcement authority, codifying the State’s NOx Reduction Goals from oil and gas operations, providing additional protections for Disproportionately Impacted Communities (DICs), and expanding the scope of the orphaned wells mitigation enterprise to help finance the plugging, reclamation, and remediation of marginal wells, with a focus on wells in DICs and near population centers.

Wildfire Mitigation and Forest Health

HB24-1024, Extend Outreach Campaigns Wildfire Risk Mitigation
This bill, initiated by the Wildfire Matters Review Interim Committee, continues the Live Wildfire Ready Campaign through 2027. The outreach and education campaign garnered nearly 6 million impressions through radio, billboard, online, and printed ads in its first year, all geared towards educating homeowners on how best to prepare for a wildfire.

HB24-1006, Assist Rural Community Wildfire-Related Grant App
This bill, initiated by the Wildfire Matters Review Interim Committee, creates a grant program to enable Non-Governmental Organizations to partner with rural communities and help them access resources for wildfire mitigation work. Many smaller rural counties do not have staff capacity or expertise to identify and apply for grant opportunities, this bill will help those communities with fewer resources partner with experts in the field to strengthen opportunities to compete for state and federal grants.

Improving Science, Research & Conservation Efforts for Sensitive Species

SB24-171, Restoration of Wolverines
This DNR-initiated bill is a bipartisan effort to authorize CPW to restore the North American wolverine to Colorado’s landscape. Wolverines are a member of the weasel family, they were once native to Colorado before being extirpated in the early 1900s. Today, there are only about three to four hundred wolverines remaining in the lower 48 states. Colorado will be the first state to restore this incredibly rare species.

HB24-1117, Invertebrates & Rare Plants Parks and Wildlife Commission
As part of DNR’s goal to protect and enhance the state’s biodiversity, HB24-1117 directs CPW to conduct surveys of native invertebrate and rare plant species to develop population data and other biological and ecological information about distribution and habitat needs. This science and research will help us identify conservation measures to protect invertebrate and plant species, knowing the critical role they play in overall ecosystem health.

SB24-199, Annual Species Conservation Trust Fund
This annual DNR department bill appropriates $5 million for research, study, and recovery programs dedicated to native species that are, or are likely to become, state or federally threatened or endangered. The bill includes $1,800,000 for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program; $1,700,000 for native terrestrial wildlife conservation; and $800,000 for native aquatic wildlife conservation, and more.

Strengthening Outdoor Recreation Activities & Land Conservation

SB24-058, Landowner Liability Recreational Use Warning Signs
This bill adds landowner liability protections for landowners who allow for recreational use on their property. This bill will help restore public recreational access across private lands at locations where closures had been put in place by landowners with liability concerns.

SB24-126, Conservation Easement Income Tax Credit
This bill removes the sunset date for the Conservation Easement Tax Credit Program, which provides willing landowners with tax credits in exchange for placing permanent conservation easements on their property. This bill helps to meet unmet demand by increasing the available credits from $45 million to $50 million per year, and in doing so, will help to advance the conservation of critical fish and wildlife habitat, maintain working agricultural lands and advance DNR’s climate resiliency goals.

HB24-1430, the Long Bill includes a historic investment in the Department of Natural Resources’ strongest asset--our human capital with new capacity to assist the Department in its goals for biodiversity, protecting Colorado’s water, enhancing our state parks, wildlife and their habitats.

To read more about these bills in depth and all of our accomplishments see: Colorado Makes Significant Strides in Advancing Water Security, Environmental Justice, and Species Conservation.


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