Gubernatorial candidate Kennedy’s growth plan includes land, water protections

Author: Jessica Machetta - December 7, 2017 - Updated: May 24, 2018

Former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy stands outside the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (Photo by Ernest LUning/Colorado Politics)Former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy stands outside the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Protecting Colorado’s land, water and open spaces is at the top of Democratic candidate for governor Cary Kennedy’s plan for responsible growth.

Conserving a million acres of open space by 2050 and protecting Colorado’s rivers, especially in the face of rapid growth, is vital, she says, especially as more attacks on public lands come from politicians in Washington. 

Her goal is to conserve 1 million acres of land and 400,000 acre feet of water by 2050. She also aims to identify and pursue opportunities to establish more state park space, which might help drive the state’s economy via tourism, recreation, cattle grazing and solar power.

“As Westerners, our first love is the land and we are stewards of this treasured place for generations to come,” Kennedy said in a release. “Colorado should be a leader in protecting our open space and our water so that our children and their children inherit the Colorado we love.”

Kennedy wants to make Colorado the top outdoor recreation economy in the country. The industry currently produces $28 billion in consumer spending, 229,000 direct jobs, $9.7 billion in wages and salaries, and $2 billion state and local tax revenue annually, she says.

To address pressures put on Colorado’s rivers and aquifers from population growth and climate, Kennedy says she would expand the use of alternative transfer methods, allowing water to be shared between agricultural users and others without permanently drying up agricultural land.

“We cannot continue to take more from our rivers, drain our aquifers, and dry up farmland to supply water to a growing urban population,” and policies must focus on conservation, efficiency and reuse, she said.

Water and land conservation is part of a four-tiered plan Kennedy wants to implement if elected governor. The plan also includes affordable housing, responsible growth through transportation, renewable energy and broadband, and creating an economy that supports the middle class.

Kennedy is a former state treasurer as well as a former deputy mayor and chief financial officer of Denver.

Jessica Machetta