Sportsmen support Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act (letter) | VailDaily.com

Sportsmen support Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act (letter)

Sportsmen support new wilderness act

Critical wildlife habitat is disappearing every day. More and more, we are seeing watersheds, wide open spaces and wild lands corridors fragmented by development, and this takes a huge toll on the wildlife that depends on these places.

That's why I am asking Sen. Cory Gardner to co-sponsor the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act. Introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet and Congressman Jared Polis, the act would create two wildlife conservation areas to protect critical wildlife linkages near Loveland Pass and in the Williams Fork Mountains in the White River National Forest.

In addition, the legislation would expand five wilderness areas and create three new ones. All of these areas are critically important to sustaining healthy populations of bear, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, sage grouse, moose, lynx, wild turkey and even wolverines. The area is also a migratory route for big game and iconic bird species like the sandhill crane.

This proposal to conserve the Continental Divide and Camp Hale has been years in the making. Congressman Polis and Sen. Bennet met with small-business owners, mountain bikers, veterans and sportsmen like me to ensure that this was a made-in-Colorado bill.

As a former Air Force officer, I'm particularly pleased that this Act also preserves the legendary Camp Hale as America's first National Historic Landscape. This portion of the bill pays tribute to the brave and innovative World War II 10th Mountain Division veterans who helped secure a victory and then returned home to help found Colorado's world-renowned ski industry.

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Once wild habitat is developed, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to return it to its natural state. The time to pass the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act is now. I urge Sen. Gardner to co-sponsor this common-sense legislation and for Congress to pass this bill.

David Lien

Chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers