U.S. House of Representatives candidate Joe Neguse wants to pick up where his predecessor leaves off | VailDaily.com

U.S. House of Representatives candidate Joe Neguse wants to pick up where his predecessor leaves off

Joe Neguse came through Vail on a campaign swing in his run for the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday, August. 12. Neguse is running against Republican Peter Yu.

Editor's note: The Vail Daily will introduce readers to candidates for statewide political office as they campaign in the region. This is Democrat Joe Neguse, running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District.

VAIL — Hiking Vail's North Trail on Sunday, Aug. 12, Joe Neguse said being in the White River National Forest is a good reminder of why he chose to run for Congress.

"We're just really lucky to live in the most beautiful congressional district in the entire country," Neguse said. "When you think of the National Forests, the public lands here in (Colorado's 2nd Congressional District) … some of the most beautiful country in the United States is right here at home."

In addition to encompassing part of the White River National Forest, Colorado's 2nd Congressional District also includes the Arapahoe National Forest, the Roosevelt National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Efforts to lease federal lands for oil and gas development near another national park in Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes, have Neguse nervous about the future of national lands in general. He's expecting to become a father later this month and said exploring the state with his daughter has him thinking about national lands in a different context.

"I spent my childhood coming up here to Vail and Eagle County and going up to Rocky Mountain National and White River," Neguse said. "The idea that I might not be able to do the same with my daughter because of the efforts in Washington — by many Republicans in Congress and by the Trump administration — to sell off our public lands to the highest bidder, and of course the catastrophic consequences of climate change, and a Congress that is in gridlock and incapable of solving what is really an existential threat, really puts at risk the ability for my daughter … to be able to inherit a world that is better off and cleaner and more pristine than perhaps the one that we inherited. It's important to me and it's a big reason why I'm running for Congress."

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WORKED WITH POLIS

Neguse is a Democrat and has a great respect for the Democrat who has represented Colorado's 2nd District since 2009, Jared Polis.

Neguse spent six years working with Polis after being elected to serve on CU's Board of Regents representing Colorado's 2nd District.

"Very big shoes to fill," Neguse said. "His priorities are very similar to mine, and a great example of that was is his work on public lands."

The Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act, introduced to Congress by Polis in January, is described by Neguse as an incredibly important piece of legislation.

"(Polis) did the hard work that I think we are sorely missing right now in Washington, which is governing — working with stakeholders here in Eagle County and in Summit County, folks from a variety of different political interests, different communities — to try to strike the right balance," Neguse said. "And I think he did that with much success, reaching a compromise around legislation that I think will do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. If anything it's a case study in the work that needs to be done to try to make progress, and I just wish we could have more of that in Washington D.C. right now, which is a big reason why I decided to run for Congress."

'IT'S WORTH FIGHTING FOR'

The Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act would designate the 28,728 acres of federal land surrounding the U.S. Army's former 10th Mountain Division training area in Camp Hale as the nation's first National Historic Landscape.

With dwindling wildlife numbers in mind, the bill would take 8,176 acres of land in the Porcupine Gulch area and 3,492 acres in the Williams Fork areas of the White River National Forest and designate them as a wildlife conservation areas in an effort to "conserve, protect and enhance the wildlife, scenic, roadless, watershed and ecological resources within that area," according to the bill.

It would also allow the town of Minturn to access Bolts Ditch within the Holy Cross Wilderness for the purposes of the diversion of water and use, maintenance and repair of the ditch and headgate.

The bill would add 9,419 acres of wilderness to the Eagles Next Wilderness area in the White River National Forest; as well as creating 7,606 acres of wilderness in the Tenmile area of the White River National Forest; 5,235 acres in Hoosier Ridge area of the White River National Forest; 8,192 acres in the Williams Fork area of the White River National Forest; and the addition of 3,902 acres of land to the Holy Cross Wilderness.

The bill would adjust the boundaries of Arapaho National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park, adding the 92.95-acre area known as "The Wedge" to the Arapaho forest, and a 15.5-acre area of Trail River Ranch to the Rocky Mountain National Park for ongoing maintenance in that area.

Finally, the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act would also create a 16,996-acre recreation management area in the Tenmile section of the White River National Forest for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, snowshoeing, climbing, skiing, camping; and hunting.

"I would love to be able to pick up the baton and carry it through the Congress and get it enacted into law," Neguse said. "Because I think it's critically important, when you think about the 90,000 acres of wild lands here in Eagle and Summit counties that would be protected by virtue of that legislation, I think it's worth fighting for."