COLORADO SPRINGS – The popularity of Colorado Springs’s outdoor spaces is growing, as is the city’s population. There is an organization in the area that’s hoping to help the area capitalize in a sustainable way.
The Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance was established in 2015, working to bring the voices of users and businesses who thrive on Mother Nature into one, more powerful voice.
“We really needed to come together to invest in our own outdoor industry to make sure that people knew about it and that we take care of it so it’s sustainable for a long time,” said Becky Leinweber, the executive director of PPORA.
Leinweber says that before the organization recreators would silo themselves. Climbers would talk with climbers, cyclists with cyclists, and anglers with anglers. PPORA brought them together as a unified voice to advocate for Colorado Springs’ natural spaces.
The organization also brings outdoor recreation businesses, outdoor enthusiasts, governments and land managers together for the same purpose. Leinweber says that before, the voices were sporadic.
“We found that convening and bringing all of those partners together your voice is a lot louder so we felt like that made a stronger voice. We do quite a bit of advocacy at the federal, state and local level.” Leinweber said.
Leinweber moved to the area in the 1990s, a time before the explosion of popularity of Colorado Springs, both in visitors and residents.
She says she watched other communities in Colorado get more recognition and advocacy for their outdoor spaces, rather than Colorado Springs.
“It has been our little secret for a while that we have the best outdoors and the best access, closest access to trails, hiking, and water ways of anywhere in the state,” Leinweber said.
Advocacy is just one of the five pillars PPORA adheres to, along with sustainable growth, strengthening outdoor industries, stewardship and inspiration.
The inspiration comes to the children, teaching them about the outdoors and good stewardship. The Give! campaign will help PPORA expand its Kid Adventure Clubs and Family Adventure Guides. The guides are a resource for visiting families and those who live in the area to find the best spots in the region, but also find the places less traveled while teaching sustainable ways to recreate.
“Kids spend a lot of time indoors right now and we need to help them find those places to explore outside and I tell you as soon as they do, They’re telling mom and dad, ‘we can’t throw our trash there,’ ‘we have to stay on the trail’,” Leinweber said. “They are the best ambassadors for good outdoor ethics once they learn it.”
People who donate more than $20 dollars will receive a stuff Pika. The stuffed animals are also in the Kids Adventure Program.