Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), the dean of the Colorado congressional delegation and Chief Deputy Whip, introduced the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2018 on July 24th, which will provide federal protection for natural wild spaces.
“Now more than ever, we need a comprehensive vision for saving Colorado’s last remaining wild places,” DeGette said. “Public lands are under increasingly frequent assault from special interests and their moneyed allies in Washington, but Coloradans are pushing back.
“Colorado has a remarkable outdoor heritage with treasured landscapes and an abundance of natural resources. Without a doubt, access to our state’s magnificent public lands plays a strong role in our renowned quality of life. The outdoors is central to our lifestyle and essential to our state’s economy. That’s why it is so important to protect our wild places.”
Congresswoman DeGette has introduced the Colorado Wilderness Act in every Congress since 1999. The current version protects 33 areas totaling 740,000 acres. Many of the proposed areas are mid-elevation ecosystems that are underrepresented in currently designated Colorado Wilderness and provide valuable habitat for a staggering variety of plants and wildlife.
“Now more than ever, we need a comprehensive vision for saving Colorado’s last remaining wild places. Public lands are under increasingly frequent assault from special interests and their moneyed allies in Washington, but Coloradans are pushing back.”
Congresswoman Diana DeGette
The Congresswoman has visited many of these areas with people who live and work nearby. Through the years, she has met with countless stakeholders including off-highway vehicle groups, ranchers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, land management agencies, land owners, and local elected officials to discuss their priorities and concerns. Congresswoman DeGette has also held several public meetings and discussions on the proposal, soliciting feedback from all interested parties.
“The Colorado Wilderness Act of 2018 importantly offers protection to some of the wildest regions in Colorado that are also most at risk from the Trump Administration’s relentless assault on America’s public lands,” said Mark Pearson, executive director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance. “I’ve been intensively engaged in advocacy on behalf of these wildlands for over 30 years, and have had the great privilege of visiting a number of these areas with Rep. DeGette.”
Julie Mach, conservation director of the Colorado Mountain Club, said the organization “is excited to support new Wilderness areas across the state that protect important backcountry recreation opportunities for hikers, climbers and skiers. These diverse landscapes support an array of human uses while also protecting some of the most iconic landscapes and sensitive natural resources in Colorado.”
According to the 2018 Conservation in the West Poll, two-thirds of Coloradans see rollbacks of laws that protect the land, water and wildlife as a serious problem for the state.