Colorado legislators push to protect 1 million acres of wilderness through 2 bills in Congress | SummitDaily.com

Colorado legislators push to protect 1 million acres of wilderness through 2 bills in Congress

The state last gained significant wilderness in 1993, with designation of about 600,000 acres

Bruce Finley / The Denver Post
Mountain climbers make their way along the summit ridge of 14,150-foot Mount Sneffels near Ouray on July 4, 2010. The Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act — spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse — would preserve the peak as federally designated wilderness. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, will introduce another bill in Congress on Tuesday to protect even more land in Colorado as wilderness.
Denver Post file

Faced with population growth and a booming tourism and recreation industry, Colorado congressional leaders are pushing to protect more than 1 million acres of land as wilderness with the help of legislation to be introduced Tuesday that would cover 33 parcels, from high desert plateaus to river canyons in the western half of the state.

The lawmakers’ efforts reflect rising concerns about the dwindling land where nature remains relatively unimpaired — shielded from development and machinery — after the past 25 years that saw Colorado’s population surge from 3.7 million to 5.7 million.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, on Monday unveiled legislation to protect 741,000 acres — and said she’s received assurances it will receive a swift hearing and advance to the House floor. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, recently introduced legislation to protect 400,000 acres of land, including some overlap with areas covered by DeGette’s bill.

State government and the private-sector promotion of tourism and outdoor recreation, which generates an estimated $28 billion annually in consumer spending, has compelled action to address the degradation of land. National parks in Colorado, and other public open space, increasingly are overrun.

Read the full story on The Denver Post website, click here.


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