Colorado Parks and Wildlife Funding Study

To ensure its stewardship of the state’s wildlife and natural resources for years to come, Colorado Parks and Wildlife enlisted Meridian to help the agency develop long-term funding strategies.

Colorado, like many states, has long relied on hunting and fishing license fees and park generated revenue to support wildlife and public land management. However, an increase in new residence and visitors, growing demand for outdoor recreation, and a declining participation in hunting and fishing pose challenges for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to have the long-term, stable funding needed to steward the state’s wildlife and natural resources.

CPW enlisted Meridian’s help to explore potential future funding for the agency, and, inspired by the long-term funding from the hunting and fishing community, to dig into opportunities for Colorado’s growing population of outdoor enthusiasts and recreation user groups to contribute to the public lands, wildlife management, and outdoor recreation amenities that make Colorado special. While most Coloradans want to continue to see the state’s public lands and wildlife well-managed, perspectives vary on what revenue sources should be considered in a lasting funding plan for CPW.

Meridian dove into this dynamic landscape, identifying how other states have funded parks and wildlife priorities, exploring Colorado-specific factors, and identifying revenue generation potential for funding ideas that include taxes, fees, and voluntary contributions, with an emphasis on user-pays funding. Meridian tested ideas with over 200 individuals from the outdoor recreation community to understand implications, perspectives, and willingness to support possible funding mechanisms.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Future Funding Study offers a decision-oriented summary of nine specific funding ideas including the tried-and true, as well as innovative funding mechanisms. Since its release, CPW, wildlife advocacy groups, and regional coalitions have used the study to advance funding discussions and further explore feasibility. State legislators, advocates, and agency leadership in other states facing challenges in funding their wildlife and state parks have also shown significant interest in the study’s findings.

Project Team

Learn more about the team that led the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Funding Study project.