Sen. Salazar introduces new Browns Canyon wilderness bill
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Colorado conservation, hunting and angling groups are hailing a proposal to set aside about 20,000 acres of federal land in Chaffee County as wilderness.
The bill by Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., would create the Browns Canyon wilderness area east of the Arkansas River and north of Salida in central Colorado.
A similar bill in 2006 by Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and former Colorado Congressman Joel Hefley failed after the National Rifle Association opposed it because it would close a trail used by all-terrain vehicles.
Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed in federal wilderness.
The bill’s supporters include the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
“The Browns Canyon area provides a quality traditional hunting experience for sportsmen and women,” said David Lien, a member of the outdoors group. “The area needs to be protected to provide much-needed quality habitat and winter range for big game and other animals.”
Browns Canyon contains both U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land. The wildlife in the area includes bighorn sheep, deer, elk, mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, golden eagles and prairie falcons.
Conservationists and area residents have pushed to have the site declared wilderness for more than a decade. The BLM recommended designating a part of the site as wilderness.
“The area boasts some of Colorado’s most pristine forests, great hunting and fishing habitat and draws outdoor enthusiasts from across Colorado and the country during nearly every season,” Salazar said.
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.