Colorado is rapidly losing its most iconic asset: nature. 

The Problem

The West loses a little over an acre of wildlife habitat and open space every few minutes. But as a fast-growing, energy-producing state, Colorado has even less time than other Western states to conserve and protect habitat, wildlife and outdoor access.

Nearly one-third ofColorados landshave already been altered by human developmentplacing Colorado at the highest percentage of natural areas already lost to developmentamongWestern states. And with just 13%of lands protected from new development, the gap between lands protected and lands already developed is among the highest in theWest.  

Since 2001, oil and gas production and development have been the leading causes of land conversion. Without sufficient land protections in place, more land, habitat and wildlife will be lost to oil and gas development and to urban sprawl, jeopardizing Colorado’s economy, our environment, and our quality of life.   

The loss of lands to oil and gas development and to sprawling suburban development threatens not only Colorado’s economy but also the state’s global reputation as a Western hub for outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing with pristine and protected landscapes. Fortunately, Colorado has the opportunity to chart a path as the national leader in the effort to conserve and protect the West’s great outdoors and wildlife habitat, leaving healthy, connected and resilient landscapes for future generations.

The Solution: Passing SB24-230

Senate Bill 24-230 (Oil and Gas Production Fees) has secured new fees beginning July 1, 2025, on Colorado oil and gas production that aim to offset some of the costs the state of Colorado bears to remediate harm caused by oil and gas producers. From these fees, Colorado Parks and Wildlife could receive nearly $50 million annually to protect Colorado’s landscapes, wildlife and habitat.

The Climate Resilient Wildlife and Lands Cash Fund will partially mitigate oil and gas development’s harm to lands and wildlife by funding the:  

  • purchase of new state parks and wildlife areas  
  • protection of current state parks and wildlife areas from overuse and degradation 
  • creation of wildlife corridors, slowing biodiversity loss and improving wildlife resilience 
  • restoration of lands that have been degraded  

The good news is that enough high-value natural areas still exist to help Colorado’s diverse wildlife weather the worst effects of climate change – if more funding is added now to existing programs to conserve and protect these lands.Conserving our lands is good for our economy and the Colorado way of life. Public lands and wildlife are major contributors to Colorado’s economies, local businesses, and a draw for tourism across the state.

Senate Bill 24-230 is a great start to financing the conservation future that Coloradans want. Thank the sponsors and co-sponsors today.