Local Concerns Addressed at Wilderness Designation Hearing
WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Montezuma County Commissioner Keenan Ertel’s testified before the House Natural Resources Committee during a hearing on the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2019, sponsored by Congresswoman Diana DeGette (CO-01). During his oral testimony, Ertel criticized the bill’s re-designation of three wilderness study areas (WSA) in Montezuma County as permanent Wilderness Areas, citing a Bureau of Land Management determination that the lands were not suited for such designation. He also outlined several other local concerns. Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) took note of the testimony and gave the following statement:
“I value protecting Colorado’s natural spaces and understand the importance of identifying wilderness areas in our public lands. However, when we are determining which areas are best suited, we cannot ignore the voices of those who would be most impacted by the designations. This bill has received justified local criticism over concerns regarding noxious weed control, mitigating existing fire hazards near residential properties, and stripping local control of energy resource development. Wilderness designations should always be locally driven, and I am thankful for Commissioner Ertel’s efforts to bring the county’s concerns to members of the Natural Resources Committee.”
Earlier this year, three Montezuma County Commissioners sent a letter to Congresswoman DeGette’s office laying out their concerns, and Ertel’s testimony largely echoed those concerns, which according to Ertel, have still not been resolved.
Ertel’s full written testimony can be found here.