House passes Bolts Ditch bill to aid Colorado towns |

House passes Bolts Ditch bill to aid Colorado towns

Daily staff report

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives Monday passed the Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act, and the Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act, legislation sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. to help Colorado communities and protect public lands. Several Colorado members of Congress co-sponsored the bills.

Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act will allow the town of Minturn to use its existing water rights to fill Bolts Lake by giving the town special use of the Bolts Ditch headgate and the segment of the Bolts Ditch within the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. When Congress designated Holy Cross Wilderness Area in 1980, Bolts Ditch was inadvertently left off the list of existing water facilities.

The Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act would expand the Arapaho National Forest to include 10 new parcels of land, informally known as the “Wedge,” which are currently undeveloped. The move enables the U.S. Forest Service to protect and preserve an area were millions of people travel annually.

Polis, who lives near Boulder, represents part of the mountains including Summit County and about one-third of Eagle County.

“Today was a great win for Coloradans,” Polis said. “At a time when it seems that partisanship and divisiveness is at historic levels, it’s heartening to see members of the Colorado delegation work together to protect our public lands and find practical solutions for our communities. We should all be proud of the passage of these bills that will protect our wonderful wilderness and help our local economies.”

Two Additional Bills Approved

The House of Representatives also approved two additional bills that Polis co-sponsored. Both bills settled long-standing land disputes in Colorado. The Elkhorn Ranch and White River National Forest Conveyance Act would resolve a costly title dispute between the federal government and private landowners. It would convey a small portion of land near Rifle to property owners who have used and paid property taxes on the acreage for years. The Crags, Colorado Land Exchange Act would convey 320 acres of land on the west side of Pikes Peak to the U.S. Forest Service. The Broadmoor Hotel currently owns the land, and in exchange, the government will transfer an 83-acre parcel located at Emerald Valley Ranch to the Broadmoor.

Both Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner introduced Senate companion legislation to these four bills this session.

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