DENVER, CO – Thirty four Colorado lawmakers led by Representative Julie McCluskie today urged President Biden to protect the public lands within the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE Act).
The CORE Act is federal legislation sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Congressman Joe Neguse that would protect over 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, establish new wilderness areas and safeguard existing outdoor recreation opportunities to boost the economy for future generations.
"From recreation to conservation, Colorado's public lands are stunning and play a critical role in our state's economy," said Representative Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “These 400,000 acres of cascading mountains, abundant ecosystems and crystal clear rivers are extraordinary. Preserving them is vital for our communities, our environment and our economy. By designating these lands as wilderness areas and a national monument, we will memorialize the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers who trained at Camp Hale, provide much needed certainty for the communities that depend on conserving these lands, and protect our Colorado way of life.”
“From Camp Hale where my grandfather trained with the 10th, to the Thompson Divide, Colorado’s public lands are what make our state great, and are a critical driver of our outdoor recreation economy,” said Senator Kerry Donovan, D-Vail. “Ensuring our most treasured natural spaces remain open to the public will protect Colorado’s outdoor heritage for generations to come. My grandfather fell in love with Colorado at Camp Hale and I hope that experience will happen again and again under this new protection.”
In their letter, the lawmakers urged President Biden to use the authority granted to him and his cabinet members to protect the public lands proposed for permanent protection in the CORE Act.
“The bill has enjoyed longstanding and widespread support by a wide array of our constituents and it is past time for these remarkable public lands to be protected,” the lawmakers wrote. “While our advocacy on behalf of the legislation and our constituents will continue, the protection of these landscapes requires your immediate action. By conserving these lands, you will preserve a rich part of this country’s history through historic landmarks and objects of historic and scientific interest and we know it will provide a path for your administration to protect additional public lands in Colorado in the future.”
The full text of the letter is below and can be found here.
The undersigned Colorado state senators and representatives urge you to use the authority granted to you and your cabinet members to protect the public lands proposed for permanent protection in the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE Act). As you are aware, this request was recently made by CORE Act sponsors Senator Michael Bennet, Senator John Hickenlooper, and Representative Joe Neguse, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis. The bill has enjoyed longstanding and widespread support by a wide array of our constituents and it is past time for these remarkable public lands to be protected.
In Colorado, we have a long history and commitment to public lands conservation. In January 2021, and for the first time in several years, we saw the Colorado public lands ethos shine through the priorities of the presidency when you committed the country to a first of its kind national conservation strategy. In a time when the impacts to public lands from climate change are rising and racial and economic inequities are expanding, the Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful conservation plan has never been needed more. By protecting the landscapes within the CORE Act through administrative action, you can secure progress towards the goals set forth in the American the Beautiful plan by taking action to protect Colorado’s public lands.
Camp Hale and the surrounding Tenmile Range are incredibly deserving of permanent protection as a national monument under the Antiquities Act. The 10th Mountain Division trained across the landscape in preparation of high altitude warfare in the European Alps during World War II. The adjacent Tenmile Range was particularly integral to their training. Following the war, the soldiers who were lucky enough to have made their way home founded the US ski industry and the outdoor recreation economy that is now so vital to our state. There are few opportunities to experience and appreciate the history of World War II in our country and the sacrifices made by so many of its citizens. However, Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range are living artifacts to that sacrifice and they also happen to be some of our nations’ most beautiful public lands.
Further west lies the Thompson Divide; another mountainous landscape that local ranchers and outdoor recreationists have spent years advocating to be protected from oil and gas development. Because the legislation has stalled in Congress, its left local advocates living under the veil of uncertainty. We urge your administration to protect the Thompson Divide landscape through a Federal Lands Policy and Management Act mineral withdrawal. Finally, we request your administration provide protections for the exemplary public lands in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains by working through the ongoing Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest Plan Revision.
These landscapes are simply too important for conservation and historic and cultural preservation to become the subject of ephemeral political whims. The CORE Act, which includes the areas mentioned previously and more, already passed the House of Representative five times, only to meet repeated partisan obstacles in the United States Senate over the last several Congresses. While our advocacy on behalf of the legislation and our constituents will continue, the protection of these landscapes requires your immediate action. By conserving these lands, you will preserve a rich part of this country’s history through historic landmarks and objects of historic and scientific interest and we know it will provide a path for your administration to protect additional public lands in Colorado in the future.
Representative Julie McCluskie
President Pro Tempore Kerry Donovan
Representative Dylan Roberts
Representative Barbara McLachlan
Speaker Alec Garnett
President Steve Fenberg
House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar
Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno
Speaker Pro Tempore Adrienne Benavidez
Senator Julie Gonzales
Representative Meg Froelich
Representative Lisa Cutter
Representative Monica Duran
Representative Brianna Titone
Representative Judy Amabile
Representative Tracey Bernett
Representative Matt Gray
Representative Shannon Bird
Representative Steve Woodrow
Representative David Ortiz
Representative Karen McCormick
Representative Mary Young
Representative Chris Kennedy
Representative Andrew Boesenecker
Senator Rachel Zenzinger
Representative Emily Sirota
Representative Mike Weissman
Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet
Representative Cathy Kipp
Representative Iman Jodeh
Senator Chris Hansen
Senator Chris Kolker
Representative Edie Hooton
Senator Faith Winter