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Bill creates more Colorado wilderness

Bob Berwyn
Summit County Correspondent
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Wednesday’s passage of the Omnibus Public Lands Bill means Colorado will get several big chunks of new wilderness, including parts of Rocky Mountain National Park and in canyon country along the Gunnison River.

No lands in Eagle County are included, but the vote by Congress sets the stage for a renewed push to expand White River National Forest wilderness areas, perhaps as soon as the end of this summer, said Lisa Smith, of the Colorado Environmental Coalition.

“It shows a lot of local support and enthusiasm for wilderness,” Smith said. “This is putting Hidden Gems in a great spot,” she added, referring to a campaign to add big swaths of new wilderness in the Ten Mile and Gore ranges, as well as other areas in Summit, Eagle and Pitkin counties.

For more information on the local wilderness plan, see http://www.whiteriverwild.org.

“The Omnibus Public Lands Bill is one of America’s biggest environmental accomplishments in two decades and a great victory for Colorado,” said Suzanne Jones, regional director of The Wilderness Society.

The public lands bill is headed for President Barack Obama’s desk. The new public land designations were the result of multi-year, bipartisan efforts led by Colorado conservation groups, working closely with congressional offices, and the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. These latest wilderness designations are Colorado’s first since 2002.

Steve Smith, a conservation expert with The Wilderness Society, said the incoming Obama administration and the Democratic majorities in both houses are more likely to take a “balanced” approach to public land management, recognizing both the importance of extracting energy and other natural resources, and the need to set aside areas with high environmental and social values.

More information and photos of the new wilderness areas are online at:

http://www.ourcolorado.org/what-we-do/wilderness/wilderness-area-proposals/cccwp/greater-dominguez.html

http://www.southernrockies.org/rocky/


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