Colorado creates equity board to increase outdoor access for underserved children, families

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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado will create a new outdoor equity board with aims to increase outdoor access for underserved young people and their families.

The board will provide grants to groups designed to help get young people outside and reduce equity barriers, like cost.

“Spending time outdoors is important spiritually, from a physical health perspective, and it’s an important part of our economy in rural Colorado,” Polis said at the bill’s signing.

Lawmakers said their goal was to make every aspect of life in Colorado more equitable this year. That includes access to the great outdoors.

The pandemic brought record crowds to state parks and trails. But not everyone in the state gets to experience all the state has to offer.

State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, knows that some people are not exposed to getting connected to nature.

So she sponsored the new law, which creates the board within Colorado’s division of Parks and Wildlife.

Sometimes, there are more than dollars that keep communities of color off the trails.

Some shy away from the mountains after years of feeling unwanted by routine visitors or fear getting outside because of a lack of experience. Others interacting outdoors at a young age want the apprehensive to know there’s nothing to worry about.

“You’re really just walking on a mountain to the top. It’s not really scary. As long as you are careful, nothing can really happen,” said Tristen Lee, a hiker with Vibe Tribe Adventures.

The grants are designed to help groups that need for years to come as long as the board approves.

The grant program is funded through a redistribution of lottery money that’s earmarked for the general fund.

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