Nature is, and always has been, the new normal…


Thanks to Shane Wright for guest writing this blog!


As the South Platte River swells to the size of the mighty Mississippi at almost 50,000 cubic feet per second, we are reminded again of the awe inspiring power of nature. Nature inspires peoples passions, joy, fears and emotions.


George Gordon Byron said…

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not man the less, but Nature more”


Groundwork USA’s motto is “Changing Places, Changes Lives” and working and playing in the State of Colorado’s awesome spaces changes us and the urban Denver youth we work with daily. Working to make natural spaces more beautiful changes our vision of what our own urban communities can be and inspires us to mimic nature and its intangible beauty.

IMG_0403 Representing Groundwork Denver and the Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board last week at the Colorado Open Space Alliance (Climate of Conservation) Conference was educational and informative. Of particular interest to me was the draft results of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). The SCORP is a public survey done every five years across the state to determine outdoor recreation needs and funding. The results, in many ways, suggest what we all arguably already know. People love nature and want to support it.


Key Points from the SCORP are:

  • Walking/hiking and picnicking make up the three most popular outdoor recreation activities.
  • Tent camping was the most popular overnight accommodation.
  • 75% of the outdoor recreation in the state takes place in North Central, Metro and Northwest regions. “We work, live and play in our shared front range spaces.”
  • Wilderness areas or open lands with little to no development and opportunity for solitude were ranked very to extremely important by 70% of Coloradans, higher than any other category of outdoor recreation area.
  • Dirt trails and wildlife viewing areas should be the focus of investment. Almost 50% of respondents ranked as essential or high priority.
  • Most people recreate 0-4 miles from home during the weekdays. “This expands to 20-49 miles on the weekends.”
  • Wildlife viewing was by far the biggest activity relating to wildlife.

IMG_2520 What stood out to me were the conservation professionals from across our state. Passionate people protecting and improving cherished spaces. As I learned more about Fort Collins, Boulder and Jefferson County Open Space adding land and placing a high value on open space, it also stood out to me that Denver is in great need of more resources to support natural spaces. Though we have the passionate people and, as the SCORP suggests, the support of the people for nature and open space, Denver Natural Areas and Mountain Parks don’t have the resources they need to manage, improve and promote these great city resources.



George Carlin said..

“I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so f***-in heroic.”


Nature is, and always has been, the new normal. Nature touches peoples passions. There is a long line of literature and science and statistics to support this thing that we all know already… As our environment and people struggle with oil and sewage flowing down the South Platte River, I can’t help but ask how can we as Denver residents and leaders in the non-profit community embrace nature’s significance to our people and fight to protect and improve our cherished spaces more effectively?

1 Comment

  1. Matt Holmes on September 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Great article! I love thinking about the intersections between people like those in colorado that love playing in the outdoors and these ecosystems that are in remarkable flux. It will be interesting to see not “if” but how ecological changes will impact traditional recreational activities. Maybe an industry that loves you outdoors can start to generate even more conscientious consumers who nut & wear materials that are actually sustainable while also teaching practices that are low impact and provide longevity for our landscapes and waterscapes. That is once the oil and sewage have washed away to somewhere else. Hang in there Colorado.