Udall, Salazar introduce public-lands bills | AspenTimes.com

Udall, Salazar introduce public-lands bills

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Ken Salazar have introduced a bill to designate nearly 250,000 acres in Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness.

The bill was among several public-lands measures introduced Thursday by the Democrats.

The bills were Udall’s first as a senator. The former congressman was sworn in as a member of the Senate on Tuesday.

And the measures are among the last Salazar is expected to offer as a senator. President-elect Barack Obama has nominated him as U.S. Interior secretary.

Colorado’s congressional delegation has worked for several years on setting aside nearly all of Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness. One of the sticking points had been maintenance and legal issues around irrigation ditches in the park. A compromise was worked out in 2007.

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The park about 70 miles northwest of Denver is Colorado’s No. 1 tourist attraction.

“This bill will ensure that the beauty of this park is maintained for generations to come while also providing a variety of visitor services and facilities,” Udall said.

Other bills by Udall and Salazar would build a conduit in the Arkansas River Valley to protect the area’s water supply, explore preserving open space along the Front Range and allow people to sell land for inclusion in the National Trails System.

Salazar is sponsoring a measure to designate 210,000 acres of federal land on the Uncompahgre plateau as the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. About 65,000 acres would be the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area.

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