The largest Colorado land protection package that the United States Congress has considered in more than 25 years, the Colorado Wilderness Act, will be voted on by the full U.S. House of Representatives this coming week. It will be part of a massive new bill introduced this past week to protect more than 1.3 million acres of land across the United States.

The legislation was introduced last year by Colorado Representative Diane DeGette (D-Colo.). It would permanently protect more than 600,000 acres of wilderness in 32 unique areas across the state of Colorado.  This includes six proposed wilderness areas totaling over 150,000 acres,officially monitored by the environmental group Wilderness Connections. All of the proposed protected areas are located in the Arkansas River watershed. They include: Browns Canyon, Badger Creek, Table Mountain, McIntyre Hills, Grape Creek, and Beaver Creek.

The 17,922 acre Browns Canyon in Chaffee County is one of the areas that would receive permanent protection as part of the Colorado Wilderness Act. Photo by Bob Wick.

Roughly two-thirds of the areas that would be formally protected as wilderness under this bill are already being treated as wilderness. But by congressional legislation to officially designate them as such — as this legislation would do — Congress would finally be giving these places permanent protection, which they do not now have.

Rep. DeGette has introduced a version of this legislation in every Congressional session since 1999. But this is the first time that the legislation has been moved to the full House for a vote. The proposed legal status has extensive environmental support, including from Wild Connections, which calls itself  “a proud sponsor of this legislation.”

DeGette’s office is encouraging Colorado residents to reach out to your elected house representative to let them know your stance on the Colorado Wilderness Act, urging elected representatives to vote favorably on this historic bill.

The District 5 Representative is:

Doug Lamborn

(202) 225-4422
http://lamborn.house.gov/contact/