Camp Hale included in new Colorado public lands bill | PostIndependent.com

Camp Hale included in new Colorado public lands bill

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily
Sen. Michael Bennet, left, greets 10th Mountain Division World War II veterans Sandy Treat, right, and Crosby Perry-Smith at Camp Hale where Bennet first proposed preserving Camp Hale. Camp Hale is part of a new public lands bill introduced by Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse.
Randy Wyrick / Vail Daily

CAMP HALE — Soldiers from Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division founded more than 60 ski areas around the United States, including Vail.

Camp Hale, the U.S. Army facility constructed in 1942 between Red Cliff and Leadville where the 10th trained for World War II, should be preserved, veterans have said.

If the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act becomes law, it will be.

The CORE Act, introduced Friday by Sen. Michael Bennet and freshman Rep. Joe Neguse, would protect 400,000 acres of public land across Colorado, including Camp Hale.

Bennet has been working to preserve Camp Hale for the better part of a decade, proposing it as one of the nation’s first national historic landscapes. It’s now part of his CORE Act.

The CORE Act combines four previously introduced bills, including the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act.

“Coloradans spent the last decade hammering out compromises to develop reasonable public lands bills with broad support.” Bennet said Friday. “The CORE Act combines the best of those proposals, reflecting their bold vision to boost our economy and protect our public lands for future generations.”

Veterans support it

When Bennet was at Camp Hale when he first proposed preserving Camp Hale, hundreds of Colorado veterans made it clear to Bennet and others that the land is important to them.

Crosby Perry-Smith and Vail’s Sandy Treat, both 10th Mountain veterans who are in the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, were among those who urged Bennet to get legislation done. During that event, Perry-Smith declared it “an excellent idea.”

“The soldiers we honor did not just climb Riva Ridge or take Mount Belvedere, or serve in the Middle East or come to our nation’s aid, they also shaped much of the state of Colorado as we know it today,” Bennet said during that Memorial Day event. “Their leadership, their resilience and sense of adventure is everywhere. The 10th has produced leaders who have built entire industries from the ground up.”

“They changed our state’s entire economy and changed how people around the world experience the mountains in winter.”

CORE Act

The CORE Act package includes public land in Eagle and Summit counties, including tracts in Minturn, Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and Vail, Neguse said.

Of the land protected, about 73,000 acres would be new wilderness areas, and nearly 80,000 acres are new recreation and conservation areas that preserve existing outdoor uses, such as hiking and mountain biking, Neguse said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.