COLUMN: I need your feedback to perfect our lands bill
Colorado’s Third Congressional District is home to some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes and open spaces.
Towering mountains, vast forests, archaeological sites from hundreds of years ago, and North America’s tallest sand dunes are a quick drive or hike from many of our backyards. With unparalleled views and recreation opportunities in our district, we are incredibly fortunate to call this district home.
For all who enjoy spending time outdoors or utilize public lands for grazing, agriculture or responsible energy development, we recognize that mismanaging or failing to protect and preserve these spaces would have devastating impacts on our way of life. Responsible, multiple-use management of public lands requires a delicate balance of interests and needs of all the stakeholders that use public lands.
Earlier this week, I announced a draft of a Third Congressional District public lands package that seeks to balance our district’s interests.
Public land designations – whether they be wilderness additions, boundary adjustments or decisions about recreation access – must reflect feedback from the individuals whom the designations would impact the most. By releasing a draft discussion of the Colorado Recreation Enhancement and Conservation Act (Colorado REC Act), I hope to gather feedback that can be incorporated to make it a strong and balanced package.
The Colorado REC Act, as drafted now, adds land to the National Wilderness Preservation System, releases land that has been studied for its wilderness characteristics and has been found to be unsuitable, provides further protections for archaeological resources and enhances recreation opportunities.
Specifically, it would add over 70,000 acres of new wilderness in the San Juan Mountains and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, areas that have minimal impact from human development and contain fragile ecosystems not found anywhere else in the state or nation.
The draft also releases acreage from seven Wilderness Study Areas that have been assessed by federal land managers and determined to be unsuitable for inclusion as wilderness. A WSA can only be released through an Act of Congress, and in order to protect the integrity of the National Preservation System and allow land managers to effectively manage public lands, guard against wildfires and protect private property and water rights.
I believe it is important that land that is not suitable for a wilderness designation be released.
Lastly, the Colorado REC Act would further Colorado’s proud history of preserving our rich and vibrant culture and value of outdoor recreation.
Earlier this Congress, I introduced the Yucca House National Monument Boundary Revision Act, a bill that would accommodate a 160-acre donation of private land to the Yucca House National Monument near Cortez. This bill is included in the REC Act package.
Additionally, the Colorado REC Act includes a title to formalize the boundary of the Curecanti National Recreation Area to preserve and enhance access and recognize the draw that this area is for many in our state and the West.
The Colorado REC Act discussion draft is just that – a discussion draft. Throughout the month of August, I am seeking feedback on the text that can be incorporated to make the bill a strong, balanced public lands package for the Third Congressional District of Colorado. If you are interested in viewing the proposal, please visit my website at tipton.house.gov/Colorado-REC-Act.
I welcome you to share any feedback, concerns or suggestions you have with me and my team.