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Polis touts Colorado’s wildfire mitigation, conservation efforts

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Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Colorado Governor Jared Polis gave opening remarks to the country's western governors for a workshop on public land management, touting his state’s conservation and wildfire mitigation efforts.

The Denver workshop was hosted by the bipartisan Western Governors’ Association, of which Polis serves as vice chair. The organization includes 22 governors from western states and territories. 

The workshop is part of a broader policy initiative by the organization called “Working Lands, Working Communities,” which seeks to “examine the interdependent relationships between western communities, state and federal land resource management entities,” according to the group’s website.

“This last year has been challenging for all of us, including here in the west,” said Polis, who spoke to the workshop via prerecorded video.

The governor noted last year’s historic wildfires in his home state, the Glenwood Canyon mudslide earlier this summer, California’s wildfires, and the ongoing drought across the west as recent "devastating" challenges for the region.

“Sadly, these events are less of an anomaly and more of the norm,” Polis said.

The governor also touted his state’s recent state park funding overhaul, and more funding for wildfire mitigation and forests. 

“This year we’ve made historic investments in implementing the Colorado Water Plan, which brought together stakeholders, years of research and policy guidance, to create a framework to tackle Colorado's toughest water challenges, as well as funding drought-related grant programs for farmers and ranchers,” he said.

The state’s water projects are set to receive $7.9 million in funding from sports gambling revenue, the Colorado Department of Revenue announced last month. Colorado voters passed Proposition DD in Nov. 2020, which asked voters to legalize sports betting to be taxed and fund for the state's water projects.

The policy roundtables during the workshop will address a range of topics such as fire restoration, forest management infrastructure, community engagement and workforce development.