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Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the Colorado State Library (CSL) are pleased to announce the continuation of the Check Out Colorado State Parks program for the March 1, 2021 – February 28, 2022 year! The new state park hang-tag passes are turquoise for 2021 and feature a beautiful bighorn sheep, the state mammal.
Looking back on the pandemic year that was 2020, the program was able to add some expansions. All the backpacks now include a Check Out Colorado Birds and a branded plastic pouch that’s easy to clean. The program also expanded to 8 new libraries: the Colorado Talking Books Library, Colorado State Publications Library, and the 6 commuter branches of Colorado Mountain College (Aspen, Breckinridge, Carbondale, Rifle, Salida, and Vail Valley).
Last year the program was a particularly important avenue to increase access to our beautiful state parks and spending time outdoors, and remained very popular despite library closures. One happy patron’s trip shows the positive impact of spending a day in a state park: “I’m a transplant to CO and I missed the color change last year. This year I was able to spend an entire day exploring trails, geocaching, and observing the aspen in different stages of the change. The weather was gorgeous and the air was clear and lovely. It was an incredibly rejuvenating trip!” Another patron shared a similar experience: “I am fortunate to live near Barr Lake State Park and was able to enjoy the trails that they have there and take a moment to revel in the beauty of the birds and nature that resides so close to my home!”
Library staff also expressed the benefits of this program to their patrons and community. One staff member reported, “This was very popular and highly requested in the summer, and was a particularly helpful program to offer during the pandemic due to social distancing and limitations for indoor participation and closures.” Another library has heard similar feedback: “A patron shared their delight with us that the backpacks allow her family to plan regular days out – the only ones they have been able to reliably enjoy during the entire past year. They would never have been able to afford the state park visit fees for even one visit, so the backpacks are really important to them.”
CPW and CSL would like to thank the many library staff statewide who make this program a success. We look forward to many more years of it to come!