Letters to the Editor

Webb was right about bold ideas, but diverting money from Lottery wasn’t one

Dear Editor,

I couldn’t agree more with Pete Webb’s recent column (Statesman, Jan. 7) in which he stated that tackling Colorado’s budget shortfalls requires discussing and implementing bold ideas. However, I strongly disagree with his idea to divert Lottery proceeds from Colorado’s outdoors.

Since 1982, I have been the executive director of The Greenway Foundation, the non-profit organization that has, since 1974, partnered with numerous public and private partners to help revitalize the South Platte River and its tributaries into some of Denver’s premier outdoor recreation amenities. In addition, I also currently serve as the executive director of The Foundation for Colorado State Parks, the non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement Colorado’s 44 diverse and invaluable State Parks. As such, I am obviously a strong supporter of providing adequate funding to protect and improve our state’s natural resources. Our river corridors, parks, trails, and wildlife habitat are a big part of what makes Colorado a place people want to work, play, and raise their children. And, these amenities are a key factor in creating a healthy economy for our communities and its residents.

While Mr. Webb advocates for the “end of Great Outdoors Colorado” as a good idea because “we’re well supplied with open lands,” he knows from his previous public relations work that Lottery proceeds do much more than fund the protection of open space. They make up almost 40 percent of Colorado State Park’s budget at a time when some parks may already be facing closure due to budget constraints. They provide community parks and trails for families and youth to recreate and be active. They help the Colorado Division of Wildlife protect nongame species. In addition, there continues to be a very high demand for open space projects from land trusts and local governments across Colorado.

As a former public school teacher, a former state legislator (the last two years of which I was Chair of the House Education Committee), and as a former member of the CSU Board of Governors, I have and continue to understand and support the need for adequate funding for both K-12 education and higher education, two of the best means of ensuring a vibrant and economically healthy populous.

However, diverting Lottery funding from the tangible and innumerable benefits it provides to the health, quality of life, and economic vitality of our great state is NOT a sufficient or appropriate solution.

Jeff Shoemaker
Executive Director
The Greenway Foundation
The Foundation for Colorado State Parks