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A Recommitment to the Outdoors Is Necessary for Our Kids and the Environment

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Colorado residents are fortunate to have beautiful parks, trails, ball fields, and public lands in our backyards. These places enhance our communities and attract millions of tourists who are eager to enjoy our gorgeous scenery while hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and hiking. Best yet: these public lands and waters offer plenty of opportunities to get fit.

Earlier this summer, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other members of the Obama administration held several public conversations about conservation in Golden and Grand Junction as part of the president's new America's Great Outdoors initiative.

I know Coloradans are proud of our great outdoors. They told me this during my statewide listening tour this past year. They told me about the importance of connecting future generations to our great outdoors. They know that getting outside and staying fit benefits the learning, behavior and health of our children, and also encourages stewardship of Colorado's public lands and active, healthy lifestyles later in life. We incorporated the information we gathered about local successes and ideas for improvements into a report and community toolkit, as well as the Colorado Kids' Outdoor Bill of Rights.

At the federal level, Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are supporting legislation that would ensure full and dedicated funding for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For decades, this program has invested royalties from offshore oil and gas development into national land conservation and outdoor recreation.

Long championed by Secretary Salazar and Sen. Udall, LWCF has protected Rocky Mountain National Park and other national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges, and provided more than $58 million in matching grants to leverage state lottery funds and other dollars to build and enhance parks, trails, playgrounds, and ball fields across Colorado. Especially in light of the BP oil spill, I urge Congress to move quickly to pass legislation to fully fund LWCF for the benefit of Colorado and communities nationwide.

We have a shared responsibility to serve as role models and mentors for our children and future generations, and as stewards of Colorado's breathtaking landscapes and waterways. Working together, Colorado can set an example for the country, ensuring the health and vitality of our youth and precious natural resources.

Someday, our kids will thank us.