Letter: CORE Act harms multiple-use recreation
Lately, I have been seeing a steady stream of articles and editorials in publications around Colorado advocating for Sen. Michael Bennet’s Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, based on the fiction that there is a strong consensus among stakeholders in favor of this bill. In reality, there is no such consensus, and the CORE Act is simply a combination of failed wilderness bills that were each too unpopular to pass on their own.
The only people in favor of this bill are those who support locking up federal lands for the exclusive use of a single user group. This bill will be devastating to snowmobilers, dirt bikers, Jeepers and mountain bikers, who will all lose access to existing recreational opportunities. As a result, those who support multiple-use of federal lands for all forms of recreation unequivocally oppose it.
The motorized recreation community especially opposes the bill, because it would convert thousands of acres of land currently open to motorized use into protected Wilderness. Almost every area of proposed Wilderness under the CORE Act is either currently open to motorized use or is considered a motorized expansion area under current U.S. Forest Service travel planning.
Snowmobiles would lose out the most, as vast areas of land that are currently open to snowmobiling would be closed. In one of the most callous corporate land grabs imaginable, the popular Sheep Mountain area near Silverton would be closed to snowmobiling (which has been allowed since 1983) and mountain biking but would remain open to a private heliskiing operation. Members of the public would be forbidden to even fly a toy drone in the area, but a corporation will still be allowed to land noisy helicopters in what will otherwise be managed as Wilderness.
The bill also closes several important networks of full-size Jeep trails and single-track mountain and motorbike trails, including the Spraddle Creek and Tenderfoot Mountain trail systems near Vail and Dillon, respectively. It threatens several nationally recognized Jeep trails including Imogene Pass in Ouray and Holy Cross City near Leadville, by putting Wilderness boundaries right at the edges of those trails making future maintenance or rerouting impossible. Even a simple mapping error could result in the permanent closure of two of the most famous off-road routes in Colorado.
While I agree Wilderness areas are important and enjoy hiking in them myself, Colorado has more than enough wilderness already. This bill claims to be about promoting recreation in Colorado when all it does is decrease existing opportunities for recreation. If you want more Wilderness, do it without closing down popular areas for motorized recreation. Or at least be honest about the fact that you are in fact eliminating several popular forms of recreation in the name of promoting others.
While others have called on Sen. Cory Gardner to get on board and support this bill, I applaud him and Rep. Scott Tipton for seeing through the lies and continuing to oppose this disingenuous Wilderness bill.