Two public lands bills would protect areas in Roaring Fork Valley
CORE Act and Colorado Wilderness Act would expand Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, protect Thompson Divide
Two public lands bills introduced in Congress this week have potentially big implications for the Roaring Fork Valley.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) reintroduced legislation Thursday that would permanently protect 660,000 acres in Colorado as wilderness. The legislation, known as the Colorado Wilderness Act, includes a 316-acre addition to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and more than 19,000 acres in the Assignation Ridge area, southwest of Carbondale.
Earlier in the week, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act was reintroduced by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, both Colorado Democrats, and other co-sponsors. The CORE Act would protect about 400,000 acres across Colorado. The legislation would withdraw about 200,000 acres in the Thompson Divide area southwest of Carbondale from future oil and gas development as well as mining.
Both efforts were endorsed by Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop. After the CORE Act was reintroduced Tuesday, Wilderness Workshop executive director Will Roush said the organization is “optimistic our pro-conservation elected officials can make this legislation a reality in 2021.”
Both the CORE Act and Colorado Wilderness Act have been introduced before but couldn’t make it through the Republican-controlled Senate. Now Democrats control both chambers of Congress. Plus, President Joe Biden announced in his first days in office the goal of preserving 30% of federal lands and waters by 2030.
DeGette’s bill would add terrain on Eagle Mountain to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The Bureau of Land Management currently manages Eagle Mountain. It is located roughly 2 miles directly west of Snowmass Village, just north of the trailheads to Snowmass Lake and East Snowmass Creek.
Assignation Ridge is located between Carbondale and Redstone, west of the Crystal Creek Valley. The 19,240 acres along Assignation Ridge are part of the broader area known as Thompson Divide.
“Assignation Ridge is home to a diverse wildlife population, including elk, bear, mountain lion, wild turkey and others,” said a news release from DeGette’s office. “The area is lush with cottonwood, ponderosa pine, scrub oak, pinyon-juniper, Douglas fir and aspen, all of which wildlife call home. It is a popular spot for recreational activities including hiking, ice and rock climbing, and skiing.”
For more on the Colorado Wilderness Act go to https://degette.house.gov/issues/protecting-colorado-s-wilderness.
For more on the CORE Act go to https://www.bennet.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/coreact.
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