Polis introduces new wilderness bill with Colorado impacts | PostIndependent.com

Polis introduces new wilderness bill with Colorado impacts

Staff Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Representative Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat whose district includes the eastern third of Eagle County, has introduced a bill to preserve 58,000 acres of wilderness and recreation lands in Summit and eastern Eagle counties.

Crafted with input from groups including The Wilderness Society, Vail Resorts, the Outdoor Industry Association, the International Mountain Biking Association, Conservation Colorado and affected municipalities and businesses, the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act will help sustain recreational resources, protect watersheds, preserve important wildfire corridors and strengthen Colorado's tourism economy.

'PRESERVED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS'

"The areas that stretch along the Continental Divide in Summit and Eagle counties are the iconic playground of our state," Polis said. "They are where Coloradans and out-of-state tourists alike go to ski, hike, mountain bike, hunt and fish, among many other activities, and this bill will ensure they are preserved for future generations to enjoy."

Specifically, the proposal would create new wilderness areas in the Williams Fork Mountains, Tenmile Range and Hoosier Ridge, as well as expand the existing Holy Cross, Eagles Nest and Ptarmigan Peak wilderness areas.

The plan also would enhance outdoor recreation opportunities including fishing, hunting, biking and backcountry snow sports by creating an 11,500-acre Recreation Management Area within the Tenmile Range. The proposal was drafted through a collaborative process with local stakeholders that not only maintained existing recreational uses, but also incorporated community values by accounting for future improvements.

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Also earlier this month, Polis hosted the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, so he could tour the proposed protection areas first-hand and hear from local leaders about the importance of the bill. During that meeting, Grijalva called the bill a precedent-setter, saying, "The broad local support and buy-in behind this bill is incredibly impressive. We're going to make this a priority."

With his new seat on the House Natural Resources Committee and Grijalva's engagement on the issue, Polis is optimistic about moving the bill through Congress this session. A map of the proposal is available on Polis' website at http://www.polis.house.gov.

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