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Public lands from Colorado to Alaska deserve protection

Like most Coloradans, and as owners of a Colorado outdoor business, we are deeply connected with and passionate about the outdoors and public lands.

Patrick, left, and Kevin Webber

These lands are where we create memories with our children, where our family relaxes, recreates and recuperates – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our love for nature is why we have joined hundreds of businesses, communities and residents across our state that have been pushing for years for passage of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act as well as for permanent protection of iconic places such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, along with other public lands.

Sen. John Hickenlooper has co-sponsored the CORE Act early in his term and is showing he is a leader who will uphold Colorado values by pushing to get it passed by the Senate this year. A vast majority of Coloradans overwhelmingly support the CORE Act, which would bring permanent protection for about 400,000 acres of public lands in our state. After a decade of engagement with a wide range of bipartisan constituents, the bill would protect some of the most pristine landscapes in our state, all while preserving existing outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking and mountain biking, which will help boost our economy for generations to come. This bold move on the CORE Act will also help the nation fulfill its recent commitment to protect 30% of public lands by 2030 (the 30x30 Plan).

Similarly, more than 70% of American voters support protecting the Arctic Refuge from fossil fuel development. We hope Hickenlooper continues his commitment to our public lands by also working to protect the Arctic Refuge. He has the opportunity to permanently protect this precious landscape that is the “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” or “Sacred Place Where Life Begins” since time immemorial for the Gwich’in people.

The case for protecting the Arctic Refuge is so clear and the reputational risks so great that all six of the largest banks in America, as well as dozens of global financial institutions and major insurers, have announced they will not fund or insure any efforts to drill in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. And, during the first lease sale ever in the refuge, not one major oil and gas company placed a bid.

We hope Hickenlooper will join Sen. Michael Bennet and others in Congress to reverse former Sen. Cory Gardner’s vote to destroy the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and his attempt to turn the crown jewel of our wildlife refuge system into an oilfield.

Coloradans, please continue to vote in the best interest of America’s public lands, air and water, and a sustainable future. Please continue the public lands legacy you have started with your support of the CORE Act and climate actions, and by supporting full and permanent protections for the Arctic Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge.

Patrick and Kevin Webber are owners of Fourpoints, a nutrition bar company based in Denver.

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