In Snowmass, Hickenlooper heralds EcoFlight, calls on other nonprofits |

In Snowmass, Hickenlooper heralds EcoFlight, calls on other nonprofits

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, right, and Aspen resident Ray Peritz at the EcoFlight inaugural gala Friday at the home of David and Laurie Bonderman.
Jason Auslander/The Aspen Times

Presidential hopeful and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper wants such outdoor companies as REI and Patagonia to take the next step and band together to protect the outdoors.

“I want the outdoor industry to engage in nonpartisan political action,” Hickenlooper said. “The (National Rifle Association) … has 5 million members. REI has 15 million members.”

But just as important to the idea are conservation nonprofits like EcoFlight, one of the Roaring Fork Valley’s more unique environmental groups, he said.

“(The idea) fits perfectly with EcoFlight,” Hickenlooper said Friday evening during the nonprofit’s inaugural gala. “What EcoFlight is dedicated to … is this whole notion of public lands.

“What we have in the United States is so different from almost any place in the world.”

The 17-year-old organization’s mission is to take scientists, journalists, politicians of every stripe, high school students, filmmakers, ranchers and just about anyone else concerned with the environment up in a small airplane so they can see the big picture. The aerial view they get provides a perspective on the environment like no other, said Bruce Gordon, EcoFlight’s founder.

“We give the land a voice,” Gordon told the Times in January 2018, noting that EcoFlight was a sort of environmental air force.

On Friday, Hickenlooper said he’d known Gordon a long time and was an immediate supporter of EcoFlight because “it was able to change people’s perspectives.” He praised Gordon and his partner, Jane Pargiter, for their willingness to improve everyone’s knowledge of the environment.

“They’ll take anyone up,” Hickenlooper said.

Before Hickenlooper’s remarks to the gala crowd at Laurie and David Bonderman’s home in the Snowmass Village area, he talked about his first two weeks on the campaign trail. So far, his trips to Iowa have revealed an agitated electorate, he said, that might significantly drive turn out for the 2020 presidential race.

“They might have 50 percent more presidential caucuses (this election season),” Hickenlooper said.

He said he thinks he’s got a good chance to come out on top of the field of Democrats seeking the nomination because he’s a pragmatist who knows how to put together a group of people that can get things done.

“I’m a doer,” Hickenlooper said. “If you’re trying to rebuild the country after the damage of Trump — someone’s got to be a doer.

“Defeating Donald Trump is absolutely essential, but it’s not sufficient. Sufficient is how you bring people together.”

Hickenlooper is one of 13 Democrats running so far for the right to challenge Trump for president next year.