Leaders in conservation and the outdoors are meeting at the High Lonesome Ranch, northwest of De Beque this week. Their topic of discussion: the future of outdoor resources. The meeting is an annual effort by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
"We're here at the High Lonesome Ranch, talking about the future of conservation. How to make it make sense for agricultural people and communities, how to plan for our water, how to plan for our wildlife and how to preserve this wonderful, outdoor recreation heritage that creates so much for our economy and so much for what's unique about America," said Jim Martin, Conservation Director for the Berkeley Conservation Institute.
On Sunday, there was an important announcement about the Endangered Species Act. Dan Ashe, Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service explained a new joint partnership with the National Resources Conservation Service that would offer money to landowners who work to help endangered species.
"We give them assurances that if you take this NRCS money, you put it to work, do good things for the habitat that you're not going to be inviting Endangered Species Act regulation," Ashe said.
But he had more good news as well. A new survey found that interest in the outdoors, particularly fishing and hunting, has increased by about ten percent in recent years.
"Traditionally, people like myself came into this profession, into the conservation field because we fish or we do some other activity in the outdoors."
Ashe said these new numbers are a promising trend for the future of conservation.
"The centerpiece of all of this is planning for the future, getting ready for a future in America that's going to be very, very different," said Martin.
He was there to speak about the future of water and how we will deal with growth.
"If we have a water policy crisis in this country, it'll get sorted out somehow, but a lot of things that we need for ecosystem services, for fish and wildlife resources, for hunting and fishing and outdoor recreation will get lost in the shuffle," said Martin.
What he really wants to do is "start the conversation" of future water management to help ease potential problems.
But the topics stretched beyond water to all aspects of outdoor resources and how to plan for them in the future.
"Theodore Roosevelt's Conservation Partnership stands for common sense, reasonable management of our resources, in the way that Theodore Roosevelt said we can sit down and we can use the resources for the benefit of the most people," Martin added.