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The Need for COTREX

Colorado is growing and its needs are ever changing. As there is more pressure for recreational opportunities and growth of outdoor tourism, an informed trail user is needed now, more than ever, to help mitigate impacts of a growing recreation industry. COTREX is primed to support sustainable growth in a variety of ways:

Population Growth

Today, approximately 5.7 million people reside in Colorado. According to the State Demography Office, Colorado’s population is expected to reach over 8.5 million people by 2050, with more than 80% of the population residing along the Front Range.  We know that many people move to Colorado to enjoy the high quality of life, which includes access to outdoor recreation.  That’s a good thing for our residents; a growing body of research suggests that exposure to nature and outdoor recreation has significant benefits for physical and behavioral health, such as improved wellness, reduced stress and lower blood pressure. More than 92% of Coloradans recreate outdoors at least once every few weeks, with 64% using local parks, open space, and trails at least once a week, according to the 2019 SCORP.

However, a growing population and increased use of our public lands come with greater impacts. Risks of “overuse” including trail damage, more litter, and overflowing trailhead parking are real concerns. In COTREX we are spreading awareness of stewardship and sustainable recreation practices like the Leave No Trace - Care for Colorado Campaign. Additionally, land managers can improve safety at overcrowded trails and trailheads by encouraging the use of lesser-known areas through Featured Routes (Section 4). 

Economic Opportunity

Outdoor recreation in Colorado includes such diverse activities as hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, snowmobiling, boating, walking on a local trail, and picnicking at a local park or playground.  These endeavors provide enjoyment and health benefits to people, and economic vitality to communities.  According to the 2019 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), outdoor recreation contributed $37 billion in consumer spending in 2017 resulting in $62 billion in economic output to the Colorado economy. This comprises 10% of Colorado’s gross domestic product and provides for 511,000 jobs in the State.  Tourism drives a significant portion of this revenue as Colorado attracts more than 85 million visitors each year.

Outdoor recreation is not only a robust sector, but a growing one. Since 2014, total economic output and tax revenue from outdoor recreation in Colorado nearly doubled and jobs increased by almost 200,000. The COTREX app inspires residents and visitors alike to discover and explore new places in the state, further contributing to local economies.

Wildlife Conservation 

Colorado’s public lands, comprising 40% of the state, serve as the backbone for this economic growth.  Public lands provide recreational opportunities to visitors and citizens alike, and they serve as a valuable tool to conserve Colorado’s wildlife and natural resources.  

Wildlife viewing is a popular activity in Colorado, since the state is home to over 960 species of wildlife. With eight National Wildlife Refuges, hundreds of State Wildlife Areas, 12 National Parks and National Monuments, 42 Colorado State Parks and millions of acres of National Forest and other public lands, you’re never more than a short drive from the natural habitat of some of Colorado’s amazing wildlife.

Within COTREX, we teach proper wildlife viewing practices in order to have positive viewing experiences, and to help reduce unhealthy behaviors that may lead to wildlife stress, and sometimes even death:

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The state’s population continues to become more and more diverse.  Today, 30% of Colorado residents are Hispanic, Black, Asian, or other persons of color.  The State Demography Office estimates that by 2050, that percentage will increase to 48%.  Recreation managers must take a hard look at what they have historically considered to be recreational opportunities; pairing world-class backcountry experiences with opportunities to enjoy an afternoon at an urban park. 

While COTREX can inform people about recreation opportunities, our team must also listen and respond to the needs of a changing population. From the onset, many of the features and details within COTREX benefit people from all walks of life:

  • The apps are FREE to use.
  • COTREX contains trails from all across the state - from urban centers to rural communities.
  • Wheelchair friendly routes are marked within the application.

The COTREX team is actively working on how to further engage and support underserved populations within the application. For instance, we are looking at ways to highlight Featured Routes that can be reached via public transit. Also, COTREX is tracking language preferences to possibly support other languages within the app.