Current CORE Act Not There Yet, Ignores Western Colorado Concerns
WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S. House of Representatives today, voted on the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act, a bill which adds stricter federal protections to over 400,000 acres of public lands in Colorado. The bill largely impacts Colorado’s Third Congressional District and Representative Scott Tipton (CO-03), citing concerns from Western Colorado counties and stakeholders directly and indirectly impacted by the bill, opposed it in its current form. This position stemmed from months of receiving feedback and concerns about aspects of the bill and public lands issues broadly that had not been adequately addressed prior to the vote, despite sharing those concerns with the bill’s authors.
“Since first coming to Congress, I learned how bipartisan support, compromise and broad local consensus have always been the driving forces behind public lands bills,” said Tipton. “In years past, the Colorado delegation has worked together in crafting public lands bills that balance the unique needs of our state including responsible energy resource development, increasing demand for outdoor recreation areas, and protecting forests and wildlife in delicate ecosystems. The CORE Act encompasses many of these aspects, but in its current form the bill has not adequately incorporated the necessary feedback from the Western Slope communities which the bill predominately impacts.”
“Without advance notice to our Board, the Curecanti Act was combined into the CORE Act. This Board has never taken a formal position on the CORE Act nor has such a formal position been solicited by the proponents of the bill…We find it extremely frustrating that we are asked to take a position on a such a lengthy bill that is already moving to the House floor.”
“I am optimistic that we can eventually get broad community support throughout the Third District on the CORE Act, but first there is outreach to be done, issues to work out, and compromises to be made. It is my hope that as this bill makes its way through the Senate that these concerns are addressed, and a more inclusive process takes place resulting in a bipartisan bill we can all support. I stand ready to work with my Colorado colleagues on both sides of the aisle to that end,” Tipton added.
The CORE Act was introduced in January 2019 and overwhelmingly affects the public lands in Colorado’s Third Congressional District.
Tipton addressed some of the concerns that local communities had identified in with the current version of the CORE Act and public lands issues broadly before the bill was scheduled for a vote on the House floor. He later submitted those concerns in the form of 10 amendments before the House Rules Committee, of which, only three were allowed for a vote before the House:
- Protection of existing grazing rights in Thompson Divide
- Added protections for water rights in the proposed Curecanti National Recreation Area
- Limits the land transferred to the National Parks Service based on the management of current memorandum of understanding in the Soap Creek area in Curecanti Recreation Area
Of the amendments not included were:
- Provisions to ensure existing energy development leases are fairly compensated for being mandated to cease operations in the Thompson Divide
- Codification of the training guidelines for the U.S. Army’s High-Altitude Aviation Training Site: would allow for pilots to have a buffer zone for traveling over wilderness areas in the event of mechanical failure or inclement weather.
- Release of Wilderness Study Areas that have been deemed unsuitable for wilderness protections
- Increasing existing trail offsets from 50-150 feet: this would allow easier access into wilderness areas in the event of a fire or fallen timber.
- Additional protection of existing grazing rights within the Curecanti National Recreation Area
The amendments can all be found here.
- Montrose County Board of Commissioners
- Club 20
- Montezuma County Board of Commissioners
- Mesa County Board of Commissioners
Tipton’s full floor speech is available here.