How to make sure everyone feels a sense of belonging in our public lands

A Black couple in nature, sitting on some boulders next to a waterfall
A Black couple enjoying nature. They sit on a boulder next to a waterfall. Courtesy of Nappy.co (public domain).
Graph showing the racial diversity of the U.S. Population (in 2010) versus the ethnic and racial groups that visit our public lands
Graph: Visitors to public lands and U.S. population (in 2010) by ethnic/racial group. Source: Resources.org

Saturday, May 21 is Colorado Public Lands Day! It’s a day to celebrate our public lands as vital resources providing clean water, protecting wildlife habitat, and offering many recreation opportunities.

However, not every Coloradan feels invited, welcome, or safe in our public lands.

Next 100 Colorado and other organizations are committed to establishing a just and inclusive parks and public lands system that reflects the faces of our state, respects all cultures, and actively engages all people.

Learn more about these organizations, some of the issues, and attend our live roundtable.

Partners:

A huge thank you to our Belonging in the Outdoors Day partners:

Endangered Species Coalition logo
Inclusive Guide logo
Next 100 Colorado logo

Here are some things you can do to learn more about belonging in the outdoors:

Join Us:

Join us for the Belonging in the Outdoors Roundtable

Saturday, May 21, 7:00-8:30 pm MT POSTPONED: Unfortunately, one of our speakers has come down with COVID and is unable to speak. So we will be postponing tonight’s Belonging in the Outdoors webinar. Stay tuned for new dates.
Registration: Register to save your spot.

Attend the live roundtable as marginalized Coloradans discuss why they do or do not feel invited, welcome or safe recreating in Colorado’s public lands, working in the environmental or outdoors industries, or participating in community science without critical mass; how those that do began to, and what those who don’t need to. We will also be fielding audience questions, but we will be prioritizing those that come from people who identify as a marginalized Coloradan (Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color, LGBTIQA2+, and/or disabled individuals).

Confirmed panelists: Chris Talbot-Heindl from Rocky Mountain Wild and Crystal Egli from Inclusive Journeys. Stay tuned for updates to this list.

Resource:

Next 100 Colorado is collecting information about the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of color on public lands in Colorado. They hope to capture the good, the bad, and everything in between, in service of better understanding the experiences of BIPOC in our publicly owned spaces. And, if needed, creating or modifying policies to make our outdoors more inclusive of all people. Please help us get the word out about this effort, and encourage your BIPOC friends, colleagues, and family to share their experiences, whether recent or from the past. More information and a link to the collection form are available here.

Support/Follow:

  • Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center – providing adaptive sports programs to individuals including adaptive winter ski and snowboard programs at Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper Mountain Ski Resorts, and summer programs on local rivers, lakes, bike paths, and an adaptive ropes course.
  • Brown Folks Fishing – a community-based organizations that is by and for BIPOC anglers. They cultivate a community, build a movement to expand access, and participate in storytelling, grassroots organizing, events, and community-building.
  • Colorado Blackpackers – providing gear, outdoor excurisions and outdoor education for free or at subsidized costs and connecting participants with volunteer opportunities, internships, jobs, and post-secondary education resources to create a pipeline from outdoor recreation to outdoor industry careers.
  • GirlTrek: Healthy Black Women and Girls – pioneering a health movement for Black women and girls grounded in civil rights history and principles through walking capaigns, community leadership, and health advocacy.
  • Defiende Nuestra Tierra – increasing the baseline knowledge of public lands and hteir management, expanding Latinx participation in public lands management processes, and focusing on specific concerns of local Latinx communities.
  • Disabled Hikers – building disability community and an outdoors culture transformed by fair representation, accessibility, and justice for disabled and all other marginalized outdoors people.
  • Diversify Outdoors – promoting diversity in outdoor spaces where people of color, LGBTIQA2+, and other diverse identities have historically been underrepresented.
  • Environment Americas – connects diverse people to birds and nature and inspires the next generation of conservationists by connecting diverse people to nature and to the protection of birds and their habitats.
  • Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) – reaching out to students who have been traditionally overlooked and under-encouraged in science and science-related careers, most notably, youth of color, LGBTIQA2+, and girls.
  • Green Latinos – convening a broad coalition of Latino leaders committed to addressing national, regional, and local environmental, natural resources, and conservation issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the U.S. Latino community.
  • Greening Youth Foundation – engaging underrepresented youth a nd young adults, while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conservation.
  • Hispanic Access Foundation – helping Latinos build their financial literacy, explore new workforce opportunities, become environmental stewards or advocate for one’s health.
  • Inclusive Outdoors Project – hosting events that bridge the gap between affinity spaces and outdoor based organizations to grow culturally cohesive practices and spaces within the greater outdoor narrative.
  • Latino Outdoors – inspiring, connecting, and engaging Latino communities in the outdoors and embracing cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative, ensuring our history, heritage, and leadership are valued and represented.
  • Native Womens Wilderness – inspiring and raising the voices of Native women in the outdoor realm to encourage a healthy lifestyle within the wilderness and provide an education of the Ancestral Lands and its people.
  • Next 100 Coalition – an inclusive vision for the next 100 years of conservation and stewardship in America.
    • Next 100 Colorado – committed to the establishment of a just and inclusive parks and public lands system.
  • Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project – ensuring that marginalized communities have access to the outdoors and that our history, values, and people are authentically reflected in public lands management.
  • Outdoor Afro – celebrating and inspiring Black connections and leadership in nature.
  • Outdoor F.U.T.U.R.E. – building momentum for the creation of a national equity fund that will ensure long-term investments in programs to serve all youth with opportunities to explore the great outdoors.
  • Outdoor Asian – creating a diverse and inclusive community of Asian and Pacific Islands in the outdoors.
  • Outdoorist Oath – an action-based commitment to planet, inclusion, and adventure. It offers tools/education for inquiry, a shareable education model, and the hub for a community that cares to build a better future.
  • People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature, and Environment (PGM ONE) – PGM ONE envisions a world that centers, values, uplifts, and empowers those who are most impacted by environmental harm and climate change—and in particular Black, Indigenous, and people of color/of the global majority—to lead the way toward environmental justice and collective liberation.
  • Radical Adventure Riders – a movement towards gender inclusivity and racial equity in cycling and the outdoors.
  • Rising Routes – elevating diverse communities and collaborating with partners to spark public action toward social and environmental resilience.
  • Sierra Club Outdoors for All – expanding universal access to nature for children and youth, as well as empowering veterans to continue their service in protecting the land they defend.
  • The Venture Out Project – leading backpacking and wilderness trips for the queer and transgender community.

Read:

Do:

  • Coming soon

Watch/Listen:

  • Watch the short film “This Land” (11 minutes)
  • Watch the short film “REI Presents: Venture Out” (15 minutes)
  • “CommuniTy Science: One Trans Person’s Trip to Loveland Pass to Study Pikas.” In it, Chris Talbot-Heindl (they/them) talks about why they avoid going out into nature by themself as a trans nonbinary individual. And how their accomplice Megan Mueller (she/her) took them out to Loveland Pass to study pikas and complete a pika survey! (24 minutes)
  • Belonging: An Outside Voices Podcast Mini-Series. “Belonging” features four individuals who identify as immigrants or first-generation, and shares stories about their personal and cultural connections to the outdoors. Featured in this mini-series: Noami Grevemberg, Francis Mendoza, Pınar Sinopoulos-Lloyd, and Dr. Cristal Cisneros.
  • “Making the Outdoors Great For Everyone” podcast from SciFri. How racism pervades public places meant for everyone. (35 minutes)
  • Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman reads “Talking Gets Us There” (2 minutes)
  • PBS Kids Talk about Race and Racism (28 minutes)
  • PBS Kids Talk about Standing Up for Yourself & Others (11 minutes)

Check out our Colorado Endangered Species Week page for more days of activities!