2018 Midterm Candidate Questions

The Outdoor Recreation Coalition circulated questions to the candidates for offices in local, state and federal elections to understand their position, plans, and perspective on Outdoor Recreation in the Grand Valley. If you feel that these issues are an important part of the future of Grand Junction, please let this questionnaire help guide your votes.

Click on a question to see the candidates’ responses.

1. What do you see as the role of Outdoor Recreation in the future of rural Colorado economies? How will you be a leader in promoting the Outdoor Rec industry?

Governor

Jared Polis:

The outdoor recreation industry in Colorado has proven itself to be a great opportunity for rural communities to support and strengthen their local economies. In many communities, a stronger outdoor recreation industry means higher income, more jobs, better supported infrastructure, and a lower cost of living. I strongly believe that a healthy outdoor recreation economy can help our state paint a more prosperous future for communities in every corner of our state.

I’ve spent much time in Congress and a lot of my time on the campaign trail meeting with leaders in Colorado communities and the outdoor industry, and I’ve enjoyed touring the booths at the Outdoor Retail show. Our state enjoys no distinction between our state’s laws and the deep appreciation and wonder that comes from our public lands and the great outdoors. Outdoor recreation is key towards diversifying our rural economies and spurring innovative entrepreneurship. I will be a governor whose dedication to promoting and protecting the great outdoors will never be questioned.

As governor of Colorado, I will make sure that our Office of Outdoor Recreation remains a strong representative of the thriving outdoor recreation economy that we have here in our state. Through the Office of Outdoor Recreation, we can continue to support our local communities and their outdoor recreation economies, but perhaps more importantly, we can make sure that there is always a space for discussion on how we can better serve this industry and the local communities that rely on it.

Walker Stapleton:

Our outdoor recreation economy is a $28 billion industry that supports over 229,000 direct jobs across our state. This industry is vital to the economic future of our state and I would look to continue the work done by Governor Hickenlooper under the Office of Outdoor Recreation (OREC) to promote Colorado as an outdoor recreation destination and continue to attract outdoor rec businesses to our state. We are blessed to have one of the most beautiful states in the country and we must continue to protect and promote our public lands and outdoor recreation opportunities as this is a huge asset to our
state. I will also look to integrate the work of OREC, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) so that we have a comprehensive and wholistic approach to promoting and protecting our public lands as well as our outdoor recreation economy.

 

US Congress, D3

Diane Mitsch Bush:

The Outdoor Recreation Economy is critical for our future economic growth and vitality. Outdoor manufacturing creates new businesses and good paying jobs. Outdoor retail has proven to be a virtually recession proof industry. Guiding and teaching outdoor skills are both important jobs, especially in ranching communities or seasonal economies.
According to the OIA 2017 Third CD Report, people spend $2.19 billion annually on outdoor recreation in our 3rd Congressional District. This means jobs, sales tax revenue, and visitors who spend on non- outdoor related businesses as well. Over 241 Outdoor Rec companies call our District home. Our Outdoor Recreation Economy in the 3rd District has major multiplier effects in all our communities,bringing visitors from all over the US and the world and making our towns more attractive to move to for innovative, creative people and new businesses that are not directly outdoor businesses.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I worked for, volunteered for, and mountain bike raced for Moots Cycles, a bicycle manufacturing business out of Steamboat Springs. I have advocated since the 1980’s at the town, county, and state level for trails and for the importance of outdoor manufacturing in our economy. I was thrilled when Governor Hickenlooper chose Luis Benitez to head our then new Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation. I was the House Co-Prime sponsor of Colorado Public Lands day. For that and other legislation that strengthened environmental protection, I was named 2017 Legislator of the Year by Conservation Colorado. Now, I have been endorsed for the US House in this 2018 election by the League of Conservation Voters.
This Administration, this Congress, and the incumbent have tried to downsize our public lands, transfer them or even sell them outright and strip those lands and the environment more generally of science- based protections. One of the major reasons I am running is to move us forward on environmental and public lands issues. Our local businesses depend on a healthy environment and free flowing rivers, and public access to our public lands.

We need a Congresswomen who will stand up for the outdoor industry. I have worked firsthand with outdoor industry businesses since the 1980’s as an advocate and since the 1990’s as an appointed or elected public official.
As your Congresswomen, I will be a champion for the outdoor industry, a healthy environment, and for keeping our public lands public, just as I always have in my prior public service.

Scott Tipton:

Mr. Tipton did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado Senate, D7

Chris Kennedy:

The Outdoor Recreation industry is vitally important to rural Colorado. Investing in the amenities that make up our rural character and provide recreation and tourism opportunities is essential to the diversity and health of rural economies. I will support policies and legislation that help our rural areas succeed in shaping their own outdoor rec destinies.

Ray Scott:

Mr. Scott did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado House, D54

Thea Chase:

Outdoor Recreation is a base industry and an instrumental component to rural economies in Colorado today and into the future. It is becoming, as a category, one of the top drivers with respect to GDP and jobs, currently at 28B in CO and 230k jobs. Outdoor Recreation’s role in and benefit to the economy includes;

  • clean industry
  • promotes well-being
  • retains our youth
  • serves as recruiter for companies and talent
  • imports dollars into communities
  • Creates brand story for communities and impacts culture

I have been a participant in the Outdoor Industry economy for many years as a member of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), helping to launch dozens of outdoor brands, using OIA research to help build business plans – Little Bear Snowshoes, Mountain Sprouts, Loki, Western Rise, The Dyrt, etc. and have volunteered as a mentor for Camber Outdoors pitchfest participants for the past four years. I brought the first workshop on startup up strategies and raising capital to Outdoor Retailer in 2014. As a member of the Town Council in Palisade, I have been a leader in support of the Palisade Plunge, Cameo Sports Shooting Complex and other rec projects. My involvement in Plunge serves as an example of how I plan to continue my support of the Outdoor Recreation industry – through engaging and facilitating cooperation amongst government, nonprofits, funding agencies, private sector, landowners and citizens. Outdoor recreation infrastructure projects are large and complex. My experience and relationships based on years of involvement in the industry through business development and government will help our region capitalize on the early success of the industry and BE the outdoor capital of Colorado.

Specifically, I would like to carry legislation that stimulates innovation and growth of the Outdoor Industry – incorporating it into the Advanced Industries programs. I feel it will be the #1 driver of many rural economies in the state going forward through direct jobs and quality of life impacts.

Matt Soper:

Mr. Soper did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado House, D55

Janice Rich:

I worked for Jim Robb for close to 20 years. He was the first co-chairman of the Colorado Riverfront Commission. It was just an idea back in the 1980s, but has become one of the outdoor attraction jewels in our community. I was inspired by the community leaders that came together to turn an idea of a Riverfront Trail into a reality. And, I will continue to support the outdoor recreation industry.

Tanya Travis:

I expect Outdoor Recreation to thrive and grow in rural Colorado, but we must do our part to protect the environment. I will strongly support environmental protections that threaten our public lands. Colorado State must stand strong against recent Federal government roll backs of environmental protections. This includes the shortening of public comment periods by BLM and the methane containment rule by the EPA.

Drought threatens our way of life and economy. I will address the drivers of climate change, and resource stakeholders for the plan moving forward into renewable energy without leaving anyone behind. The energy workers of today will be the energy workers of tomorrow. Rural areas specifically will need help with this transition because they may not have diverse economies. Rural communities play an important role in their agricultural and ranching economies as stewards of our public lands.

By addressing the middle-class challenges of healthcare and affordable higher education, we can expect the jobs in the outdoor recreation field to prosper as the Colorado economy promises.

2. Mesa County is made up of 74% public lands. Please describe the importance of our public lands to the economy in the Grand Valley. What role do these places play in the future of our community?

Governor

Jared Polis:

In addition to joy and fun for residents, public lands in Mesa County and around Colorado create and sustain thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in wages and revenue. It goes without saying that public lands are a key driver of our local economies. That is why I’ll never hesitate in our fight to protect our public lands and open spaces. As governor, I will never let them be sold off to the highest bidder because when we protect our public lands, we are protecting our local economies, our small businesses, and the thousands of Coloradans who depend on our public lands to maintain their incomes and their ways of life.

Through all the economic change that our future may bring, it is clear that public lands and the outdoor recreation industry will remain a strong pillar of economic support for our local communities. According to the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, the outdoor recreation industry provides over 2,000 jobs and puts over $300 million into the local economy. The outdoor recreation industry is an economic driving force in the Grand Valley, and as governor I will make sure that every community across Colorado is able to tap into the economic potential that the outdoor recreation industry provides.

Walker Stapleton:

Public lands are a major economic driver across our state but particularly in the Grand Valley. I am fascinated and excited by collaborative projects like the Palisade Plunge mountain bike trail and look forward to finding more ways to work cooperatively with state, local and the federal government to build the economy in the Grand Valley. Historically the economy in the Grand Valley has been driven by the energy industry and I am encouraged by local efforts to diversify the economy and promote the valley as an outdoor recreation destination. As a State, we can and must continue to diversify our economy and find collaborative ways for the energy economy and outdoor recreation to co-exist and thrive in a mutually beneficial way. Proper land usage policies should be determined with rigorous public input and we should follow a multi-use approach wherever it is appropriate and designate particular areas for a certain use if this is determined to be suitable by relevant stakeholder groups.

 

US Congress, D3

Diane Mitsch Bush:

Public lands are key for the Grand Valley’s economy to flourish. In both Fruita and Grand Junction, trails partnerships have emerged and flourished on public lands and connecting them. A complete and interconnected trails system helps both our communities and our growing outdoor economy thrive.

Grand Junction is the confluence of the Gunnison (after its confluence with several other major Western slope rivers) and the Colorado, all of which originate on public lands. Rafting, kayaking, and SUPs are increasingly popular uses and spawn many business opportunities: manufacturing, guiding, and lessons.

In the Grand Valley, tourism, hospitality and restaurants, guiding, and manufacturing all rely on public lands. But all businesses and the community benefit from new generations of creative, innovative people drawn here by our beautiful public lands.

Scott Tipton:

Mr. Tipton did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado Senate, D7

Chris Kennedy:

Ensuring both access and protection of our public lands cannot be overstated. If we don’t fight to maintain access for recreational use we are basically cutting off our noses to spite our face.

Ray Scott:

Mr. Scott did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado House, D54

Thea Chase:

Public lands are why many of us live here. Being able to go 10 minutes from my door to miles of trails, river, wildlife areas… is spectacular and we are so fortunate. Public lands support our economy through outdoor recreation, natural resource development and agricultural uses. Balancing the uses of our public lands remains a top priority to support these major sectors of our economy.

The role going forward. Public lands will continue to be the fuel for our economy and it is critical that we balance access in light of growth pressures, maintain trust between key industry, government and nonprofit stakeholders and assume increasing responsibility in the stewardship of this asset. Going forward 3 key issues rise to the top – access, growth and stewardship.

Matt Soper:

Mr. Soper did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado House, D55

Janice Rich:

When I first moved to Grand Junction (more than 45 years ago), I was all about outdoor activities from riding my horse on public lands, hiking, camping and fishing. There were also many years of enjoying rafting, skiing and bicycling. These days, I continue to enjoy bicycling — and skiing when time permits. I believe public lands will continue to attract not only tourists, but new residents to this area. And I support the possibility of the BLM headquarters being moved to Grand Junction, Colorado.

Tanya Travis:

The outdoor industry generates $28 billion in spending, 229,000 jobs, $9.7 billion in wages and salaries and $2 billion in state and local taxes, which even exceeds oil and gas severance tax revenues.
The mental health benefits of the great outdoors cannot be underestimated. So many emotional conditions improve after a long hike on a desert trail. The physical exercise, the clean air and vast expanses can mend the frayed threads of our lives. When families camp and take time for each other they reinforce their bonds and better understand our dependence on the environment we inhabit. To understand our interdependence on nature is a form of wisdom that can not be taught in school settings. These benefits are impossible to quantify. Accessibility to public lands is unique to the Grand Valley, and the more people that discover our public lands, the more stewardship it will likely require.

3. What are the three most important things we need right now to make the Grand Valley a vibrant and healthy place for young families and growing businesses?

Governor

Jared Polis:

While in some parts of Colorado, our economy is booming, too many communities, especially in our rural areas, are being left behind, and that story isn’t getting told as often as it needs to be. And, it’s not just telling the story. We need a governor who cares and will finally do something about it, and I will. I’m proud to have represented parts of rural Colorado in Congress, and I’ve worked hard to solve problems that are close to home for these families — like access to health care, rural broadband, and housing costs.

As governor, I will support every aspect of our rural economies — from affordable housing, to good schools, to a modern infrastructure, and of course defending our public lands. I believe that as a state we should be looking to communities such as Delta county, where the agritourism industry has become a pillar of economic development for the region by creating jobs and increasing local revenue. Working with rural communities across our state to find the best ways to grow their local economies — whether through an outdoor recreation based economy, or one focused on agritourism — will be a focused priority for my administration. I look forward to partnering with the Outdoor Recreation Coalition to continue economic diversification of our rural areas. By providing more entry points for employment in rural Colorado, we can ensure that areas outside of the I-25 corridor don’t just get by, but thrive.

I have a comprehensive plan to bring universal high-speed internet access to Colorado, which is one of the most important things we can do to bridge our state’s urban-rural divide and make sure every kid in Colorado gets a great education, or that entrepreneurs can start the business of their dreams no matter where they live.

Walker Stapleton:

The Grand Valley, thanks to the work of your organization, is doing a great job of building its reputation as an outdoor recreation hub through projects like the Palisade Plunge and Cameo shooting facility. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade must do a better job of promoting locations for businesses to relocate that are outside of the Denver Metro area. With the cost-of-living sky rocketing on the front range, rural and western slope communities will naturally become more attractive destinations for businesses to relocate. But we have an obligation to help
expedite this process to bring good-paying jobs and economic opportunity to the Western Slope to help bridge the rural-urban divide. Fixing our roads and creating a health-care system that expands options and reduces costs will be essential to continuing economic development in the Grand Valley so that folks aren’t paying more for their health insurance than their home mortgages or rent. Investing in our transportation infrastructure is essential to attracting businesses so that they can reliably transport their goods and services to market.

 

US Congress, D3

Diane Mitsch Bush:

1.Federal incentives and low interest loans for small businesses, especially outdoor manufacturing and renewable energy to create living wage jobs and more start up opportunities. We need to incentivize small businesses to move to the Valley, creating more good-paying jobs that can sustain families. There are a few key ways we can bring good-paying jobs to our District: expanding our renewable energy sector, investing in infrastructure, and attracting small manufacturing. Young people and young families need help with their onerous burden of college loan debt. Until we tackle that, we won’t have real economic opportunity for a whole generation.

2. A key way the Federal government can help businesses and young families is by helping to provide affordable, quality healthcare. Young families especially need to know that they can afford healthcare for themselves and their children as they often lack backup funds that older people have. This means that the Children’s Health Insurance Program needs to be fully funded, as do our rural health clinics. I will protect coverage for those with preexisting conditions. I will work towards a universal healthcare insurance system, modeled on Medicare for all. Providing quality healthcare is also good for the economy because healthy workers are more productive and there is more flexibility in the market if your insurance isn’t tied to your job. Small businesses can have coverage and choice for far less than they pay now by getting rid of red tape and excessive administration costs.

3.Our environment here in the 3rd District is our heart and soul, it ensures that we have clean air and water for our health, and it sustains and attracts economic opportunity. We must make sure to see our environment as a key long-term foundation of our District. This means balancing energy development with strict environmental regulations and investing heavily in renewable energy. We need to work with local stakeholders to create wildlife protection partnerships that are not one-size-fits-all. The 3rd Congressional District is intricately intertwined with our environment.

Scott Tipton:

Mr. Tipton did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado Senate, D7

Chris Kennedy:

A robust and diverse economy that has outdoor recreation as a key component.

Representatives that are open to all ideas on how we grow our economy using all of the assets we have available.

More investment in our public education system.

Ray Scott:

Mr. Scott did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado House, D54

Thea Chase:

  • Quality jobs for working class families
  • Education system that supports the growth and development of our youth
  • Health in the form of affordable and accessible healthcare and a focus on wellness

Public lands and Outdoor Recreation play a role in each of these things. The Outdoor industry creates jobs and attracts company starts, growth and recruitment in the region. Education is best done in the field and more emphasis is being placed on applied learning and learn by doing, for example, projects like Colorado Canyons Catalpa science and adventure camp providing hands on learning opportunities. Opportunities to get our youth outdoors is not only beneficial from an education standpoint but also promotes wellness and well being and public lands provide affordable access to recreation for all socio-economic groups, bridging the gap for our families.

Going forward – supporting the growth of the outdoor rec economy, opportunities for failimiles to get outdoors, integrating education with our public lands and good stewardship interrelate to creating the vibrant and healthy place we want for our families and businesses.

Matt Soper:

Mr. Soper did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado House, D55

Janice Rich:

Economic opportunities; career pipelines; good schools.

Tanya Travis:

1. Address our middle-class economic challenges including the cost and access to healthcare. It is precluding many middle-income families to live middle class lifestyles, invest in homes and have free time to enjoy the community assets and the great outdoors.
2. Increase quality education K-12 and address the cost of higher education that has escalated 85% over the last two decades. A college education is an indicator for obtaining a middle-class lifestyle.
3. Continue to promote our assets, have a community center completed and establish the kind of public/private partnerships that feed our tax base for our parks, libraries and museums.

4. Reports show that the outdoor recreation economy is 4% of the GDP in the US. Having one of the first state offices of Outdoor Recreation, Colorado has been a leader in creating a national framework for other states creating similar offices. These offices represent hundreds of thousands of jobs and provide billions of dollars in our national economy. What actions will you take to preserve the Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation and ensure that it is funded to continue to be a leader in the country?

Governor

Jared Polis:

The outdoor recreation industry in Colorado has created thousands of good paying jobs and millions of dollars in revenues for our Colorado communities. It is absolutely essential that we keep a strong outdoor recreation industry in Colorado, so that our local communities can continue to grow and thrive.

We can capitalize on the economic opportunities that the outdoor recreation industry brings our state, but in order to do this, and lead the country when it comes to strengthening our outdoor recreation economy, we must continue the work of our Office of Outdoor Recreation. To do this, I will prioritize funding for the Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation.

Colorado has one of the strongest outdoor recreation economies in the nation. Across our state, communities have had the invaluable opportunity to tap into this growing industry, creating jobs and building revenue for our local economies. The Office of Outdoor Recreation has a been a leading force for our outdoor recreation industry, and they have paved the path forward for our state to follow in the effort to grow and support our Colorado outdoor recreation economy.

As governor I will be eager to work with the Office of Outdoor Recreation to find new ways to grow our outdoor recreation economy even stronger, solidifying Colorado as the national template that others can look to when growing their own outdoor recreation economies. That’s why I propose creating conservation and recreation districts in partnership with the outdoor recreation industry to facilitate entrepreneurship, create jobs, and attract visitors to unique parts of our state and relieve foot-traffic in our most popular parks.

Walker Stapleton:

I would look to continue and expand upon the work done by Governor Hickenlooper in setting up OREC and promoting our state as not only a destination for outdoor rec enthusiasts, but businesses in the industry as well. As Governor I will ask the legislature to approve continued funding for the program and look to expand cooperation between OREC, CPW, and GOCO so we can have a coordinated and unified push to promote our state and it’s natural beauty. Our state’s natural beauty is one of the greatest assets we have and the great work these organizations have done is helping us to protect our environment while also growing our economy.

 

US Congress, D3

Diane Mitsch Bush:

While funding and authority of the Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation is up to the Governor and the State Legislature, I would support Congress providing incentives to states for such offices. This could be new legislation or it could be with one of the existing federal programs. I know first-hand how important and effective our State Office has been. I have worked closely with Luis Benitez on many issues (see above).

Scott Tipton:

Mr. Tipton did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado Senate, D7

Chris Kennedy:

I will work to establish the office of outdoor recreation permanently established and funded through the legislative process.

Ray Scott:

Mr. Scott did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado House, D54

Thea Chase:

The Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation has been a key driver in propelling not only recognition of the size and impact of the Outdoor recreation economy but also has provided leadership and technical assistance to businesses, business groups and governments in growing the sector throughout the state. It has raised Colorado to the national leader in the rec economy and can be credited for relocation of the Outdoor Retailer shows to Colorado. It’s impacts are quantifiable and have a justifiable ROI. With this ammunition, I would work with colleagues from Western Colorado and other rural areas of the state to craft legislation for funding the office within OEDIT.

Matt Soper:

Mr. Soper did not respond to our survey.

 

Colorado House, D55

Janice Rich:

I believe when visitors think of Colorado, they think of the outdoor recreation that our state offers (I know I did). I do not foresee the Colorado Legislature wanting to eliminate funding of the Office of Outdoor Recreation. If elected, I would continue to show my support.

Tanya Travis:

Let’s make sure this young office is funded in a sustainable way, independent of general funds if necessary. The four quadrants of this department; the confluence of economic development, conservation stewardship, health and wellness, education and workforce reflect Colorado’s values. This office will fortify and validate our outdoor recreation economy. We will be able to measure the benefits of outdoor recreation and meet the unique challenges of Colorado’s diverse outdoor recreation options.