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

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Denver - This year, the Colorado General Assembly approved more than $130 million in investments to equip the state with the resources necessary to advance State energy goals, mitigate wildfire risk, and enhance water, wildlife, and outdoor recreation resources which were supported by Colorado Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Gibbs and Governor Polis signed into law. These advancements will move Colorado into the future and towards our goal 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.

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. The measures passed will provide an urgently-needed surge of investment to address key needs.

"The 2023 Colorado legislative session made great strides to position Colorado for our water, energy, climate, wildlife, outdoor recreation and natural resources priorities for the 21st century by paving the way to oversee carbon sequestration, utilize geothermal sources for heat and power, boost efforts to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk, and invest in securing water supplies and water conservation measures among many other efforts,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of Governor Polis and our work and partnerships with state legislators, local governments, advocates and other stakeholders who all engaged on our natural resource legislative issues and priorities at the State Capitol.”  

Governor, state employees and legislators at bill signing in Colorado mountains


Major highlights include: 

SB23-270 - Projects To Restore Natural Stream Systems

This bipartisan, DNR-initiated bill creates a clear legal path for minor stream restoration activities that are intended to help protect water supplies, restore habitat, and recover from drought, fire, or floods.

Colorado River Policy & Technical Support (CWCB) - $1.9 million and 13.9 FTE

This DNR budget request establishes an interdisciplinary team of experts focused on the Colorado River system, including a full-time Upper Colorado River Commissioner, to meet Colorado’s interstate water obligations while advancing our position on the Colorado River. 

SB23-177 - 2023 Colorado Water Conservation Board Water Projects Appropriations

This bipartisan annual DNR bill funds critical investments in water and infrastructure projects across the state. This year’s package contains over $90 million in funding, including $25.2 million for Water Plan grant funding, a historic $34 million to assist with Colorado’s threatened and endangered species, $20 million for the Arkansas Valley Conduit, $1 million for water forecasting efforts, and $500,000 for watershed restoration efforts. 

SB23-285 - Energy & Carbon Management Regulation in Colorado

This bill secured bipartisan support and transforms the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) by renaming it the “Energy and Carbon Management Commission” (ECMC). The bill provides ECMC with  expanded regulatory authority over new energy technologies, including deep geothermal development and underground natural gas storage, to reflect the energy transition our state is facing.

Wildfire Mitigation and Forest Health

In our state’s fight to mitigate the risks of wildfires, the Colorado legislature made significant investments into our Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP). This includes an upfront investment of $11 million in the current fiscal year and $6 million in ongoing annual funding for proactive mitigation in communities with the highest risk for wildfire damages.  

SB23-005, Forestry And Wildfire Mitigation Workforce

Bipartisan bill that directs the Colorado State Forest Service to develop educational materials to inform high school students about work opportunities in forestry and related fields, and provides funding for wildfire mitigation businesses and entities to hire interns, to create and expand forestry programs within the higher education system, and to recruit educators.

State and Local Officials and employees in front of fire truck

HB23-1060 - Updates to State Forest Service Tree Nursery

This bill secured bipartisan support and provides $5.3 million in funding for upgrades and improvements to the Colorado State Forest Service tree nursery. This builds on a $5 million investment in the nursery that passed in the previous session. 

HB23-1274 - Species Conservation Trust Fund (SCTF) Projects

This bipartisan annual DNR bill authorizes $5 million to fund critical conservation work for threatened and endangered species, and to protect vital aquatic habitat through stream protection efforts undertaken by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. 

HB23-1265 - Born To Be Wild Special License Plate

Bipartisan bill that creates the “Born To Be Wild” special license plate for the purpose of funding conflict mitigation related to gray wolf population management.

SB23-255 - Wolf Depredation Compensation Fund

Bipartisan bill that creates the Wolf Depredation Compensation Fund to supplement Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s annual  appropriation dedicated to implementation of the Wolf Restoration and Management Plan. This funding will be used to compensate livestock owners and owners of livestock guard and herding animals for losses from wolf depredation. 

SB23-214, the Long Bill includes a historic investment in the Department of Natural Resources’ strongest asset--our human capital. 

Governor and State Parks Employees Celebrating Bill signing

To read more about these bills in depth and all of our accomplishments see:Colorado Makes Historic Investments to Advance State Energy Goals and Enhance Water, Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation Resources, May 2023





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