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Public Lands

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Colorado's public lands are faced with new challenges but water and land management depend on working together. Read about the relationship between water and land in Colorado and how Coloradans are converging to restore Colorado's public lands in the Spring 2018 issue of Headwaters magazine.

Browse articles and find a flipbook of the magazine here.

Connecting the Drops

connectingdropslogo4.1Bringing you the reporting you crave over the radio airways with extras and archives on our website. Visit the audio archives or listen to the latest story on the connection between Colorado's forests, watersheds, and forest fires:

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Water Education Colorado

Watermarks--Letter from the Editor

—Two years ago, I signed on with a bond analyst publication to cover the Kansas City Fed Chief, Tom Hoenig, when he's in Colorado. At a meeting in Montrose where he spoke to a group of business people, I sat beside a travel agent. She'd moved from Texas to Montrose a few years earlier. During the course of lunch, she told me that she wasn't having the same level of success in Colorado that she'd had in the Lone Star State. She said Texans vacationed. They went places and stayed for a while, which often required a travel agent's assistance.

People in Colorado stay home, she lamented. The state is just too magnificent and there is too much to do.
Wow. What a problem for a state to have.

But I had to agree. There are places to go and things to do: national grasslands, mountain parks, open space to explore; trails to hike and bike; rivers to raft; lakes and streams to fish; rocks to climb; slopes and meadows to ski; birds to watch.

Coupled with breathtaking beauty, Colorado is blessed with a wealth of minerals. Gold and silver, and later coal, oil and hard rocks are woven into Colorado and the Wests history. The rights to the minerals still untapped are in the same stunning places where we make our greatest escapes.

And that's the rub.

Interests and passions collide.

Underlying it all is a history rich in controversy, disaster, commerce, growth and more.
President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act in May 1862, roughly a year after the Civil War began and land rushes cycled after gold rushes. Fortune seekers, settlers and traders streamed West. Native Americans, despite treaties, were pushed off their ancestral territories.

The government wanted the West populated and promoters insisted that ’rain follows the plow.’ Blizzard, drought, and financial panic hammered Colorado mid 1880s-1890s. Talk about climate change.

The big rains and good fortunes returned in the years before World War I, but they didn't last. The high winds of the 1930s blew tilled prairie soil and precariously perched families away. In 1937, Congress passed the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, authorizing what is now the Natural Resource Conservation Service to purchase 11 million acres of sub-par farmland, 3.8 million of which became national grasslands. Two of the nation's 20—Pawnee and Comanche—are in eastern Colorado.

In the early 1900s, President Teddy Roosevelt and his forester Gifford Pinchot pitched preservation. John Muir's vision marked in the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park and many future debates about what to preserve and what to develop.

A century after Roosevelt, Pinchot and Muir we've got more questions than answers about public lands. Bandied about in political arenas, the areas are more than pieces on a map. They're what keep a lot of us here and in the conversation.

Lori Ozzello

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