DENVER—Colorado lawmakers Senator Michael Bennet, Senator John Hickenlooper, Governor Jared Polis, and Representative Joe Neguse sent a letter to President Joe Biden yesterday urging him to use the Antiquities Act and other presidential authorities to protect landscapes identified in the CORE Act.
The letter asks Biden to use the Antiquities Act to designate Colorado’s Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range as the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument. It also requests Biden protect Colorado’s Thompson Divide through a Federal Lands Policy and Management Act mineral withdrawal, which would ban new oil and gas leasing, as well as mining. Community stakeholders have worked for over a decade to build strong support for this move.
Finally, the letter calls on Biden to work to protect areas of the CORE Act proposed for wilderness designation, mineral withdrawal, and special management areas on the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests by using the upcoming U.S. Forest Service plan revisions or other administrative tools. Details on these protections can be found in this letter of support from seven Colorado county commissioners.
The Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act seeks to protect over 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, establish new wilderness areas, and safeguard existing outdoor recreation opportunities to boost Colorado’s economy. The bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives five times, but has stalled in the Senate.
The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:
“This is an excellent opportunity for President Biden to use his authority to protect public lands at the invitation of state lawmakers and community stakeholders who have worked tirelessly to put together a responsible conservation plan for Colorado.
“The CORE Act has strong public support among Coloradans, where residents see the value in conserving public lands for future generations. Almost 90 percent of Colorado voters said they support protections proposed in the CORE Act in recent polling conducted by the Center for Western Priorities.
“Despite strong public support, the CORE Act has been held up in the Senate by lawmakers who are dead set against passing any conservation legislation. It’s time for President Biden to step in to deliver for the people of Colorado.”
Since 2011, only 134,400 acres of public lands in Colorado have been conserved as national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, or national conservation areas. That ranks the state 9th out of 11 Western states.
Winning the West 2022 poll – Center for Western Priorities
Conservation Gridlock – Center for Western Priorities
The CORE Act – pdf summary
(Photo: Proposed Whitehouse addition to Mount Sneffels Wilderness; Credit: Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society)