EAGLE COUNTY — Denver Democrat Diana DeGette introduced her 13th Colorado Wilderness bill Monday, targeting 750,000 acres in 31 areas around the state.
Rep. Diana DeGette has introduced wilderness legislation every session since 1999, and says this version combines elements and lessons learned from each of those bills.
“As a fourth-generation Coloradoan, I know how central the outdoors is to our lifestyle and how essential it is to our state’s economy. That is why it is so important we protect our wild places,” DeGette said in a conference call Monday afternoon.
In Eagle County, DeGette is proposing wilderness for areas around Pisgah Mountain and Deep Creek. Deep Creek was a controversial part of the Hidden Gems wilderness proposals. Parts of the area are used as landing sites for helicopter pilots training with the Colorado National Guard’s High-altitude Army Aviation Training Site.
Wilderness is the most restrictive designation, and prohibits mechanized travel. Wilderness is defined as a natural environment that has not been significantly modified by human activity.
DeGette said her new bill would add lower lying canyonlands, foothills and lower desert terrain mostly managed by the Bureau of Land Management to the state’s wilderness lands.
That would leave 90 percent of BLM-managed lands open to oil and gas drilling, mining, off-road vehicle use and other development, she said.
If something isn’t true wilderness, there’s no reason to protect it as such, DeGette said. If it’s wilderness, that’s how it should be protected, she said.
“It’s important to preserve our remaining wild places,” DeGette said. “I realize that by introducing the bill, it’s just another step in the process.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935, and firstname.lastname@example.org