Editor's Note: 'Our Colorado' helps us all navigate the challenges related to growth while celebrating life in the state we love. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at OurCO@TheDenverChannel.com . See more 'Our Colorado' stories here .
DENVER -- Our state's growing population is spilling over into our Colorado's beautiful outdoors. So much so, that the International Sportsmen's Expo at the Colorado Convention Center this weekend has become the region's largest show.
The annual event bringing in tens of thousands of people each year is an opportunity for people to learn how to explore the Rocky Mountains fully and responsibly.
“Our state parks have had record visitation over the past couple of years,” said Rebecca Ferrell, Statewide Public Information Officer for Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW). “This past year we had over 15 million visitors to our state parks.”
That record visitation in recent years makes staying on the path traveled even more vital to the natural beauty.
“It’s on all of us to make sure that we are working to protect the things and the places and the wildlife that we love,” said Ferrell.
CPW has a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) . The SCORP is issued every five years for land and water conservation fund dollars.
“It really is a landscape scale plan to make sure that we are protecting not only one piece of a park but overall in Colorado the different things that we love to do,” said Ferrell.
Under the mission of the plan, there are dozens of organizations throughout Colorado working to promote land use and wildlife conservation, including Stay the Trail.
“Going off of the trail just a little bit can really hurt the environment,” said Molly Chiappetta, Education Manager for Stay the Trail. “We want to keep the state as beautiful as it was today in 50 years and to really be able to enjoy it.”
The SCORP plan also hopes to address barriers to access for visitors, especially with Colorado’s booming population.
CPW created free apps like CPW Fishing and COTrex to help outdoor enthusiasts explore new and less trafficked spots to fish and hike all over the state.
“We work with local and federal land managers to really pinpoint different trails,” said Ferrell.
In fact, there are over 30,000 miles of trails mapped and waiting for people to get out and visit them.