Extra tax on outdoor gear? Parks and Wildlife looks to raise money for conservation

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DENVER -- Would you be willing to pay an extra sales tax on outdoor gear or buy a license plate stamp to support the Centennial state's outdoor spaces? That's what Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to know, as it's beginning a conversation about how to pay for conservation in the future.

This includes keeping trails pristine and wilderness and wildlife healthy.

"The more these resources get used – we use the phrase, 'They’re getting loved to death,' – the more stress and strain is put on them. That increases the amount of need we have to maintain and conserve them," CPW's Rebecca Ferrell told FOX31.

The state legislature recently approved a fee hike for park passes and hunting and fishing licenses that starts in 2019, but the agency said many people use the state's trails and open spaces and don't pay for them. That's where CPW contends it needs the money in the future.

"We have a lot of non-consumptive users - our hikers, mountain bikers, folks coming out to do some birding - and there really isn’t any cost associated with that," Ferrell said.

So at a commission meeting Tuesday, the agency will start talking about how to pay for conservation in the future.

Two ideas that will probably be discussed: a potential sales tax on outdoor gear and a license plate stamp.

"I understand, more people coming to the state, means more usage of the land, I get that.  I would be on board with some sort of an increase. I see that there’s going to be a need for that," said mountain biker Josh Holmes.

"Just because I buy a bike doesn’t mean I’m the only guy using it or enjoying it," Holmes continued. "So, I don’t think just a bike tax or just a camping tax is the way to go."

"I think getting all the people who use it on board, as well as the companies that those people are using, is a good idea," said Sarina Scott, a mountain biker who would like to see more sponsorships and donations from biking and other outdoor companies.

Do you have any idea about how to pay for conservation?  Colorado Parks and Wildlife would like to hear from you.

The agency says an official proposal for a tax or fee increase is at least a few years away.


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