By Logan Smith

DENVER (CBS4) — If you are an outdoor activist, it might feel odd to plug your car into the grid while you are trying to unplug yourself from it.

But a pro-environment group hopes charging your vehicle while recreating will become normal practice.

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Environment Colorado announced earlier this month its launch of the “Recharge Where You Recharge” campaign. The aim of the campaign is the establishment of charging stations at public parks.

Electric vehicles outside the City County Building in Denver for National Drive Electric Week in 2019. (credit: CBS)

Not at every high country trailhead, a spokesman for the organization was quick to point out. Only in those places that already have electric capacity.

“We are not advocating to tear up new land and build invasive infrastructure,” Eric Timlin said. “Where there is the capability to install chargers like in existing parking lots with facilities and electricity, there should also be an EV charger.”

“EV” stands for electric vehicle, a device which the state has chosen to promote. Close to one million electric vehicles could be on Colorado roadways by 2030 if last year’s Colorado EV Plan meets expectations.

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“Coloradans should not have to choose between having an electric vehicle and visiting the parks they love,” said Environment Colorado State Director Hannah Collazo. “We need to have charging infrastructure in the places we escape to. That’s why we’re calling for the installation of at least one charger in each one of our state parks.”

(credit: CBS)

Benjamin Westby, president of the Western Colorado EV/Tesla Club, pointed to the rafting sites at Rifle Falls State Park as a prime example in his area.

“Most EVs on a road trip or an outdoor adventure spend the majority of their time parked at our state parks, trailheads and boat launches. These are the areas our state should be building chargers.”

A section of the Devil’s Backbone near Loveland. (credit: City of Loveland)

Representatives of two Front Range counties spoke positively of the concept.

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“We are certainly interested in a future with EV charging stations at our trailheads and we have already begun exploring feasibility,” said Eric Lane, Director of Boulder County Parks & Open Space. “Because most of our trailheads do not already host electricity infrastructure, it will be economically challenging in these situations. However, our ability to install chargers could be accelerated through public or private grants.”

Matt Robbins, the Community Connections Manager for Jefferson County Open Space, said JeffCo recently installed EV chargers at its administration building and courthouse. While several JeffCo parks are not potential hosts due to the lack of infrastructure, several others are.

“I will be sharing this with our Grant Coordinator for further consideration,” he told CBS4. “I tend to agree with their vision.”

(credit: CBS)

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The Colorado Energy Office’s Charge Ahead Colorado program was established in 2013 and has awarded grants to more than 1,000 EV charging stations across the state, according to its website.

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It’s possible this may work at the federal level as well.

“Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Paul Scolari responded that while there are no public EV charging stations planned inside the monument at this time,” spokesperson Sonya Popelka stated in an email to CBS4, “it is an idea the monument would embrace for the future, building on existing infrastructure in already developed areas.

 

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Logan Smith