Governor Polis signs Invertebrates & Rare Plants bill, providing opportunity for CPW to manage populations more comprehensively

Governor Jared Polis joined staff from Colorado Parks and Wildlife at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster today to sign HB24-1117, which gives CPW the authority to study and conserve native invertebrates and rare plants.

“Conservation is important to the health of our environment and communities. Colorado’s renowned outdoor recreation and breathtaking natural beauty depend on the health of insects, pollinators, and other animals. Today, we are protecting and conserving the species that help make Colorado the beautiful state we all love,” said Governor Jared Polis.

“This bill provides an exciting opportunity to manage wildlife populations more comprehensively,” said Colorado Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibbs, “from the plants and invertebrates that make up the bottom of the food chain, all the way up to the larger wildlife that are so iconic to the state of Colorado.”

“Because of this legislation and the efforts of our amazing staff, partners, and bill sponsors, CPW will now have the needed tools to manage wildlife in a more comprehensive manner, strengthening our efforts toward protecting biodiversity in Colorado,” said CPW Director Jeff Davis.

“Native rare plants are essential to both wildlife and humans, and they contribute to clean air and water, carbon sequestration, food sources, healthy ecosystems, and wildlife habitat,” said CPW Species Conservation Unit Supervisor David Klute. “This legislation will help create programs designed to support conservation of native rare plants and invertebrates and can lessen the likelihood that the species will be added to federal threatened or endangered lists.”

Key components of the new law
Invertebrates include all species without a backbone, including many familiar insects such as butterflies and bumblebees and many other species. The bill defines rare plants to mean a plant species that is indigenous to the State of Colorado and that is at risk of extinction or elimination across the entirety of their distribution due to restricted range, few populations or occurrences, steep declines, or severe threats.

The bill would allow CPW to conduct investigations and surveys of native invertebrates and rare plants in order to develop information about population, distribution, habitat needs, limiting factors, and other biological and ecological data to help identify conservation and management measures that protect these critical species. CPW is authorized to implement voluntary conservation measures to protect these species.

Beginning in January 2026 through 2029, the Department of Natural Resources will be reporting back to the General Assembly on CPW’s progress in this space through the Department’s annual “SMART Act” presentation.

The bill is funded out of Wildlife Cash Funds, excluding funds from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses or from associated federal grants.