To the Editor:
Many people come to Colorado to enjoy our public lands and our many outdoor recreation opportunities. They stay to enjoy the quality of life our beautiful mountains, grasslands, rivers and wildlife offer.
The Upper Arkansas Valley, where we operate our whitewater rafting business, is one of the destinations people enjoy coming to because of the mountains, trails, camping opportunities and world-class whitewater rafting. It’s the beauty of the public lands that has allowed our business to succeed for over 34 years. Our area’s economy is supported by outdoor recreation on our public lands, which must be wisely managed and protected into the future.
The Bureau of Land Management is updating the Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan. They are mandated to take input on that management plan from folks like us and to manage and protect Colorado’s public lands so that our mountains remain beautiful, our grasslands healthy, our waters clean and our wildlife thriving. This management plan will determine how nearly 700,000 acres will be managed for the next 20 years.
And yet, after hearing strong input from people supporting outdoor recreation and land protections during previous public comment periods, the BLM’s “preferred draft alternative D” for the Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan disregards conservation in favor of mineral development all over eastern Colorado. Some of the most beautiful and important lands for recreation and conservation can be found in the areas impacted by the BLM’s preferred alternative. Only 1,300 acres of Lands with Wilderness Characteristics are recommended for protection in the preferred alternative (that is less than 1 percent of those lands). Needed protection for Badger Creek and other Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) is also being ignored. Parts of Browns Canyon outside the national monument are in jeopardy from Alternative D, as well. Alternative B is the only alternative that includes resource protection goals.
The BLM needs to recognize the importance of outdoor recreation to Colorado’s economy and protect our public lands, especially those lands with wilderness characteristics. They need to support a management plan alternative that protects small businesses like ours, Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy, and the public lands we depend upon and value.
The public comment period on the Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan will be open until Sept. 20. We urge you to comment in support of Alternative B. Please submit your comments online: www.rockymountainwild.org/meetings-easternco.
Joe and Sue Greiner
Wilderness Aware, Inc.