House Committee Passes Bill Protecting Colorado's Public Lands
Introduced by Representative John Salazar (D-CO), the measure will protect more than 61,000 acres of public land in southwest Colorado--33,000 acres as wilderness--including additions to the Mount Sneffels and Lizard Head wilderness areas. The designations would expand the 480,000-acre San Juan National Forest wilderness and provide critical landscape linkages. The San Juan Mountain range is one of the most geologically diverse ranges in the world and is home to the threatened Canada lynx, the Colorado River cutthroat trout, which is designated by the Colorado Division of Wildlife as a "species of special concern," and the Gunnison sage-grouse, whose status is under review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Michael Bennett (D-CO) have introduced companion legislation, which had a hearing in April.
“We are pleased with the efforts to move this legislation forward,” said Marcia Argust, policy manager for the Campaign for America's Wilderness at the Pew Environment Group. “Working with stakeholders, Congressman Salazar has engendered wide support for the measure among his Colorado colleagues in the Senate, local communities, elected officials, citizens, ranchers, outfitters, the conservation community, recreationists, and local businesses. We commend and thank the members of the House Natural Resources Committee for adopting this important bill and sending it to the floor.”