Background on Why the CO-OP is gathered together …

Increasing popular demand for the availability of outdoor spaces – plus our growing understanding of how important private and public lands and water are to our economy, quality of life and health – make it essential that everyone work collaboratively to conserve Colorado’s outdoors.


Colorado’s outdoors are the backbone of the state’s economy. Outdoor recreation is one of the largest employment sectors in the state. 330,000 jobs directly support outdoor recreation in Colorado.  83% are outside Denver metro. About half are on the western slope. As we think about the future of our rural economies, outdoor recreation offers enormous opportunity. And not just the ski towns, but towns like Meeker and Craig where people go for hunting and fishing. 

Looking only at direct economic contribution, outdoor recreation is about 5% of Colorado’s GDP. 

Nationally, outdoor recreation makes up over 2.2% of the national GDP. (BEA) This is significant -- more than pharmaceutical spending and more than oil & gas. In Colorado, research shows that outdoor recreation makes up over 5% of the economy. (CPW) 

Money spent on conservation has ripple effects throughout the state’s economy. Land conservation supported by Great Outdoors Colorado grants and conservation easement tax credits generate $4-$12 return for every dollar spent.


According to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife 2018 study, the 3 biggest barriers for people to recreating outside in Colorado were time, crowding and traffic. When asked what the biggest motivator was for getting outside, survey respondents said to spend time in nature. As we think about Colorado’s future, we need to plan for more people and more development. We also need to be diligent about conserving outdoor resources. The CO-OP has a vision and a plan that includes:

  • Partnership. Bringing the private and public sector together. To foster collaboration, we convened the Colorado Outdoor Partnership -- a coalition of outdoor recreation, conservation and agricultural interests. Together, we developed Colorado’s Outdoor Principles. Anyone can incorporate these principles into your work. Go online and see how you too can become an adopter. 

  • SCORP. The CO-OP lead a collaborative effort to develop an outdoor recreation plan for the state. Building on the principles, the plan highlights four key priorities to focus collective efforts over the next five years, these are increasing stewardship actions and ethics toward the outdoors, conserving outdoor resources, ensuring there is adequate funding for outdoor programs and conservation and promoting access and opportunity to ensure that everyone can enjoy and benefit from Colorado’s beautiful outdoors. 


Colorado currently enjoys the number one spot as “healthiest state” with our adult obesity rate the lowest in the nation. However, Colorado’s obesity rate has more than tripled since 1990. One in four Colorado children is now obese, representing one of the fastest growing rates of childhood obesity in the country. Colorado struggles on other health indicators including the 8th highest rate of suicide, the 7th highest non-medical use of prescription pain relievers, and significant racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality and life expectancy. Physical activity and outdoor recreation can play a key role in reducing obesity and other health conditions and improving emotional health.