Rocky Mountains at risk, Colorado wilderness protections attacked

New Report: set of aggressive bills in Congress gut protections to local wilderness areas, open special places to drilling, mining, development

Environment Colorado

“From our snowcapped Rocky Mountain peaks to the alpine lakes and aspen groves of many Colorado wilderness areas, this state is home to some of the world’s most stunning landscapes and natural beauty.” said Bessie Schwarz, Field Organizer of Environment Colorado. “Yet, Colorado Representatives Tipton, Coffman and Lamborn and other members of Congress seem bent on trashing our treasures. They have launched an assault on the best of Colorado.”

The Environment Colorado report analyzes the effects various bills moving through the U.S. House of Representatives would have on the Rocky Mountains and more than a dozen treasured places across the country. These beloved Colorado landmarks provide clean water, improve air quality and support critical wildlife habitat, and drive recreation and tourism. Nevertheless, Representatives Tipton, Coffman and Lamborn and support bills that put our wilderness at risk.

“Colorado is blessed with some of our nation’s best outdoor recreational spaces and breathtaking landscapes.  Not only is it important that we maintain and improve these lands for future generations to enjoy, but also for the jobs they create and the essential role they have in sustaining many of our state’s local economies,” US Senator Mark Udall said. “Protecting our land, water and air should be a bipartisan national priority — and a priority for all Coloradans.”

The Wilderness Development Act, a bill cosponsored by Colorado Rep. Coffman, would allow road-building and logging in the most pristine areas surrounding our parks and wildernesses. H.R. 2578 would overturn decades of Congressional protections for wilderness areas and wildlife refuges to allow wide-spread motorized access, permit logging, mining and fossil fuel extraction in sensitive areas, and allow agencies to close areas to hunting and fishing in favor of energy development, without any notice to the public.

The report details seven additional bill, introduced recently in Congress, that are aimed at dismantling critical protections to public lands.

“Imagine going to your favorite Rocky Mountain peak only to find that acres of forest have been clear cut. Or perhaps you’re hiking on your favorite backcountry trail and find roads criss-crossing the landscape or an oil rig is going up,” remarked Schwarz. “The Roadless Release and Wilderness Development Acts would allow road-building and logging in the most pristine and sensitive areas in Colorado, even though Congress granted extra protections to our wilderness and Roadless areas decades ago.”

 “People flock to these locations to hike and backpack along hundreds of miles of trails, to raft, kayak and fish along the rivers, to ski in the winter, and to climb, camp, ride horses and spot wildlife year round. Recreation in Colorado generates $10 billion a year and creates 107,000 jobs for the 1.6 million Coloradoans alone who participate in wildlife recreation,” said Kurt Kunkle, Wilderness Coordinator with 
Colorado Environmental Coalition. “It is astounding that members of Congress, including Colorado’s own, would risk losing all of this by opening our most sensitive areas to road-building and oil and gas development.”

“Coloradans need to say enough is enough. We call on our elected officials to reject these bills and make sure that visitors can continue to enjoy our state’s pristine beauty for generations to come,” concluded Schwarz.