2023 Mayoral Candidate Forum for Conservation - The Land Unites Us All

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Mayoral Candidate Forum for Conservation

The Land Unites Us All

It was standing room only for Palmer’s Mayoral Candidate Forum for Conservation on Tuesday, March 7. Over 130 members of the Colorado Springs community attended to hear Mayoral candidates weigh in on conservation, outdoor recreation, and water. The remarkable turnout and positive response in support of conservation from the candidates, community members, and conservation partners makes one thing clear—the land unites us all.

The Forum began with a welcome by Rebecca Jewett, President and CEO of Palmer Land Conservancy, where she made clear - conservation isn’t a luxury. It’s one of the most relevant issues of our times. From wildfire to flooding, to climate change and water shortages, to public health challenges and food insecurity, never before has conservation been more urgent and needed than it is today.

Eleven of the 12 mayoral candidates attended the discussion moderated by Alasyn Zimmerman of KOAA News5. Mayoral candidate John "Tig" Teigen was out of town for a work-related engagement and was unable to attend. Ahead of the Forum, Palmer Land Conservancy invited the community to submit questions for the candidates. More than 30 questions were received. In the interest of time, the questions were narrowed to three based on themes. Candidates were provided the questions in advance of this Forum. Each candidate made a brief one-minute introduction, then had a minute and a half each to answer three questions, and then provided a one-minute closing. 

Candidate Questions

Question 1

One of the most pressing issues of our time in the Western United States is the dwindling water supply from the Colorado River, which is a lifeline for some 40 million people and the $15 billion-a-year agriculture industry that depends on it. Since 2000, flows on the river have declined an estimated 20%. Analysts say that the river is in peril and climate change, resulting in less snowpack that feeds the river, plus prolonged drought conditions, have put us in what is described as a crisis situation.

With 70% of the City’s water supply coming from the Colorado River, how are you going to balance growth and development with the reality that water is in jeopardy? What solutions do you have to this multi-state issue?

Question 2

The outdoor recreation industry brings significant economic impact to communities, including Colorado Springs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in Colorado, the outdoor industry contributes $11.6 billion to the state’s GDP. 125,244 jobs make up the outdoor recreation economy within the state, ranking 11th among all states. It was the vision of Palmer Land Conservancy’s namesake, William Jackson Palmer, which played a significant role in the history of the land in southern Colorado.

The City of Colorado Springs Parks percentage of the City's General Fund has never gotten back to its pre-2008 level, yet our population continues to flourish and park usage, from tourists and residents, increases year over year. 

If you are elected Mayor, would you work to increase park funding and what three examples can you provide that would increase park funding? How do you see the City of Colorado Springs supporting and providing equitable outdoor spaces for all of our residents and kids?

Question 3

We are living through an unprecedented time, experiencing extreme weather patterns that include prolonged drought, hotter and drier conditions resulting in historic wildfires, and severe storms resulting in devastating flooding. These disasters threaten our health, ecosystems, infrastructure, and communities. As we continue to experience environmental changes, conservation is a tool to provide climate responsive solutions that can help mitigate these impacts, allowing us to adapt to our changing climate while protecting our community, economic livelihoods, and quality of life.

Do you believe landscape resiliency and wildfire mitigation are important to our community’s safety and public health? And, if elected, what actions would you take to address these threats to our quality of life?

"Conservation isn’t a luxury. It’s one of the most relevant issues of our times."

Rebecca jewett, President & Ceo of Palmer Land Conservancy


Check out the livestream provided by KOAA News 5 to see coverage of the event and hear how your candidates weighed in on conservation, water, and outdoor recreation. For more coverage, read the top news story in the Gazette.

Questions Continued

Our conservation partners across the region have also been asking candidates to weigh in on important issues related to our great outdoors. We encourage you to read their online Q&A’s to learn more. 

Thank You

Palmer would like to thank Alasyn Zimmerman of KOAA News5 for moderating and live-streaming the Forum, and Ivywild School for allowing us to host our event at their great location.

Thank you to our Colorado Springs Mayoral candidates, conservation partners, and community members for attending and supporting conservation. Conservation is, and always has been, a nonpartisan issue, garnering support from all corners of the community and beyond. The Mayoral Forum for conservation truly demonstrated that the land unites us all.

We’d like to offer a special thanks to our community and conservation partners throughout the region who either attended the Forum, or helped spread the word.