The great outdoors needs lottery money

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As a business owner for more than 20 years, I have come to realize the importance of investing back in my business in order to stay competitive in a growing marketplace. This same principle couldn’t be more true than when it applies to our public lands and a growing population that benefits from the investment of the Colorado Lottery.

The Colorado Lottery funds Great Outdoors Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Conservation Trust Fund — all programs from which we have benefited directly here in El Paso County and throughout the Pikes Peak region. In a town that is funded primarily by sales tax, and therefore dependent on tourism and subject to fluctuations in the economy, the financial investment of programs like GOCO goes a long way. Since GOCO began supporting projects throughout the state, El Paso County has seen $52.5 million in grants from GOCO for 187 local projects. Our county has more than 8,000 acres conserved thanks to the investments made by GOCO. Our neighbor, Teller County, has seen nearly $11 million in investments through 71 grants resulting in 4,495 acres conserved.

In the face of mounting pressures on our great outdoors, it is critical we maintain our investment in parks, open space, agriculture, trails and playgrounds. These investments are good for business, good for families and have improved and protected the quality of life we expect living here.

The General Assembly will be considering legislation to extend the authorization of the Lottery Division. Without an extension, the lottery, and therefore the funding that makes so many vital projects possible, will expire. No other state in the country has a program like this one. It has done so much to protect the spaces we love, now we need to step up to protect it from sunsetting.

Let’s keep the whole Pikes Peak region and beyond the place we love and want to call home by continuing the investment of lottery dollars in our great outdoors. My business is part of the outdoor industry, which produces $28 billion annually for the Colorado economy.

There is a lot at stake. Learn more at KeepitCO.org.

David Leinweber is the owner of Angler’s Covey. He can be reached at 719-471-2984.

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