by Dalton Carver
After another unsuccessful attempt of the passage of the San Juan Wilderness Act for Colorado, two Colorado legislators presented the next best option last week. Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse, both Colorado Democrats, revealed the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act on Jan. 25, which aims to protect about 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado.
In addition to public land protection, the act would establish new wilderness areas and fortify existing outdoor recreation opportunities.
The CORE Act is a combination of previously introduced bills, including the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act; the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act, the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act and the Curecanti National Recreation Area Boundary Establishment Act. CORE was created by several entities, with counties, recreation groups, sportsmen and conservationists helping to write the proposed legislation.
Of the 400,000 acres proposed to be protected, 73,000 would be new wilderness areas and nearly 80,000 would be new recreation and conservation management areas preserving existing outdoor uses.
The bill includes a National Historic Landscape honoring Colorado’s military legacy, the first of its kind. This segment of the act would also prohibit new oil and gas development in areas marked important by ranchers and sportsmen.
Stances vary on the CORE Act
Several regional county commissioners and elected officials have publicly expressed support for the bill, including Ben Tisdel, Ouray County commissioner, and John Clark, mayor of the Town of Ridgway.
“Ridgway is ideally situated at the foot of the San Juans, within close proximity to all types of outdoor recreation, which our public lands obviously offer in abundance. As a result, those uses are playing a rapidly increasing role in our economic development strategies,” Clark said in his support statement for the act. “That's why we’ve long supported the protection of our public lands, and thank Senator Bennet for sponsoring the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.”
The bill is publicly supported by...