Letter: Coloradan for the CORE Act | VailDaily.com

Letter: Coloradan for the CORE Act

As I write this, the beauty of the Tenmile Range is illuminated by the morning sun here in Summit County. A county that draws roughly 4.4 million recreation visits annually. This welcome visitation allows people from around the world to experience the places we are fortunate enough to call home.

Our public lands are what draw so many to Colorado, they fuel our economy and feed our souls. Their benefits are so numerous that it is essential for us to protect them for ourselves and future generations. Thankfully we have legislators like Rep. Joe Neguse and Sen. Michael Bennet who introduced the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act earlier this year. This bill will protect 400,000 acres of Colorado through a variety of designations, including the first-ever National Historic Landscape at nearby Camp Hale and a Special Management Area in the Tenmile Range that hovers above me now.

In addition to protections here along the Continental Divide, the CORE Act will formally designate Curecanti National Recreation Area, preserve the ranchland and big-game wintering habitat of the Thompson Divide, and protect the iconic San Juan Mountains. These magnificent and critical public lands are vital to our communities and Colorado way of life.

Unfortunately, not all of Colorado’s delegation shares this opinion. Recently, Rep. Scott Tipton released a discussion draft of his idea of a public lands protection bill. This bill, the REC Act, falls well short of what Colorado needs and Coloradans want by releasing almost 40,000 acres of Wilderness Study Areas. However, where it falls short, the CORE Act excels. In addition to its intrinsic value, years of collaborative work allows the CORE Act to enjoy broad support from local elected officials, hunters, recreationists, and ranchers across all four geographies included in the bill.

However, the CORE Act is still awaiting support from Rep. Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner. Gardner regularly paints himself as a public lands champion but remains the lone Colorado senator to have never supported wilderness protections for the state. Meaning, that since the passage of the Wilderness Act 55 years ago every Colorado senator, regardless of which side of the aisle they sat on, recognized that Colorado is a special place and Coloradans want to see our landscapes protected.

My love for this area and the need to protect it is why I encourage Rep. Tipton and Sen. Gardner to cosponsor the CORE Act.

Tom Koehler

Frisco