Letter: Conserving precious public lands shouldn’t be a partisan issue
Recently, you may have been reading about the CORE Act and something called 30X30. These conservation and environmental initiatives are designed to ensure future protections on our lands, water and historically significant resources. Recognizing the critical juncture at which we’ve arrived, both were resoundingly supported in a recent editorial by The Denver Post.
Contrary to knee-jerk cries from some corners of “land grab” and government “overreach,” the 400,000 acres of our public lands set aside by the CORE Act – over 100,000 in Eagle and Summit Counties — is merely a fraction, about 2%, of the existing 22 million acres of public lands in our state. The CORE act is designed to protect these precious areas across Colorado from future development as it sets aside several new wilderness areas that will provide a myriad of recreation opportunities for everyone in the country.
We’ve all watched, as our trails and campgrounds, rivers and lakes, and peaks and valleys, have seen more and more pressure from outdoor enthusiasts. Everyone should welcome and enthusiastically support the efforts of our Reps., Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Ed Perlmutter and Diana DeGette, among others, who helped pass the CORE Act in the House three separate times. Now, Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper have taken the baton to usher CORE through the Senate.
In Colorado, loving and experiencing the outdoors is in our collective DNA. It is not, and should not, be a partisan issue. The sight of an eagle soaring over a river or the primal sounds of a bull elk bugling at dusk holds us spellbound, regardless of political leaning. Here, in Eagle County, we’ve seen those experiences dwindle as more and more people move to our region to escape the confines of urban areas. Unfortunately, overcrowding and degradation naturally follow. It’s a scene being played out across Colorado and the West. This is why setting aside this relatively small amount of public land is so critical to providing the breathing room these wild places will need to endure over time.
The other initiative being proposed is the 30X30, which sets a national goal to protect 30 percent of the country’s lands and water by the year 2030, by conserving and protecting more lands to ensure a lasting environmental legacy. This is not a liberal pie-in-the-sky vision. Currently, about 12 percent of public lands are already protected. That puts us nearly halfway there. And don’t be distracted by the “shiny object” of limiting oil and gas and other resource extraction. Only about 10 percent of those leases are actually on public land, with the vast majority on private lands.
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This last year has shown us what’s coming to our state and its public lands. Unless you’re truly a Colorado native, you moved here from somewhere else. Do you seriously think all of our new residents are going to turn around and go back to the city now that they’ve experienced what we’ve already known all along? I think we all know the answer to that.