A Watershed Moment

The Hermosa Creek Watershed is one of the most popular destinations in southwestern Colorado.  Located just 10 miles outside of Durango in the San Juan National Forest, the area is a recreational haven for hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and fishing. The area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including Colorado River native cutthroat trout, deer, elk, and Canada lynx.

In April 2013, the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act (Senate Bill 841) was introduced by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and co-sponsored by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) that would designate 38,000 acres of land as wilderness and 70,000 acres as a special management area. Companion legislation to the bill was introduced in the House by Representative Scott Tipton (R-CO) and is co-sponsored by Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO).  The Hermosa Creek River Protection Workgroup partnered with the bills’ authors to ensure that the proposal made environmental and economic sense for southwestern Colorado. 

Hermosa Creek© Jeff Widen

Hermosa Creek

Public lands that would be protected in the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act.

The Hermosa Creek legislation enjoys bipartisan support from a multitude of stakeholders. Nearly three years of dialogue brought together a diverse local coalition—outdoor recreationists, water officials, small business owners, and sportsmen—to safeguard the watershed.  
In addition to amazing views, Hermosa Creek contains at least 17 ecosystems, making it one of Colorado’s most biologically diverse forests. The area’s lower elevations sport rocky scrub oak and pinyon-juniper that give way to aspen, spruce, and fir trees at higher altitudes. It also boasts old-growth ponderosa pine forests, which are some of the last remaining large stands in the San Juan Mountains. 

As a habitat to many plants and animals, the conservation of the watershed is critically important to the plants and animals that live there, as well as to the people who depend on it for clean water, outdoor activities, and local recreation and tourism jobs.  The Hermosa Creek watershed includes the largest, unprotected roadless area in the Southern Rocky Mountains, which proves essential for sustaining big-game habitat and clean water. 

Meet the people working to make the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act the law of the land in this episode of “This American Land,” produced in partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is partnering with local communities to protect this special place in Colorado. With the 113th Congress coming to a close, the clock is ticking. We urge Congress to pass the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act this year.

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