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Udall Wants Feedback On Creating Wilderness Areas

DENVER (AP) – U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said Sunday he wants the public to help him craft legislation that would create wilderness and national monument designations for two popular recreation areas in Colorado.

Udall said 32 areas covering almost 236,000 acres in Eagle, Pitkin and Summit counties in the central mountains are under consideration as wilderness areas. The proposal, which he stressed is in its infancy, includes additions to existing wilderness areas like Holy Cross, Eagles Nest and the Maroon Bells.

“The whole point is we’re going to work in a collaborative, bottom-up process to protect lands that are important to our economy,” he said, referring to Colorado’s tourism industry.

“It’s been proven without a doubt that wilderness is one of the state’s economic drivers.”

The senator, a Democrat, also wants feedback on designating as a national monument 20,000 acres on both sides of the Arkansas River between Salida and Buena Vista in south-central Colorado, as well as creating wilderness along Browns Canyon, areas known for whitewater rafting.

“It would draw national, international attention to the world-class rafting and outdoor recreation economy,” Udall said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. He added a national monument designation “puts a place on the map.”

He also outlined his plans Sunday at a press conference in Frisco.

Meanwhile, Bill Dvorak of Nathrop, an organizer with the National Wildlife Federation and a fishing and rafting guide, said protecting the area for hunters, anglers and rafters is a “no-brainer.”

“Local residents and business owners have been trying for more than a decade, so the time to move forward is now,” he said.

Udall acknowledged that some in Congress are against wilderness designations and national monuments because they think they completely bar human activities on the land.

The Obama administration has come under fire for an internal memo that identified several areas in the West as potential national monuments, and critics had pointed to that as a sign the administration aimed to unilaterally lock up land from development.

But, Udall said, although roads and other manmade infrastructure would be barred under his proposal, ranchers would still be able to graze their cattle, fire suppression would remain unchanged, and existing groundwater systems often would be grandfathered.

He said most of the land is owned by the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and is not being logged or mined, which would be outlawed under either designation.

“The heart of the wilderness concept is that man is a visitor,” Udall said. “Man isn’t the permanent presence.”

LINK: Protecting our Outdoor Heritage

– By Thomas Peipert, AP Writer

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Mark from Litteton, Co

    This is just what we need in this country. More Control of the lands WE “The People” own. Please DO what we elected you to do. Stop this waste of time and money on something as unimportant as a Land GRAB that most of us don’t want to happen. Do something CONSTRUCTIVE for a change. Like …… Stop the wars, help the Poor or Fix the U.S.Tax structure. Come down to earth where the rest of us live…..

  • Brandon

    Dear Mark from Littleton, Co.

    This IS exactly what we need. When those lands are gone, they are gone, and then what? The future generations will be angry at us for not preserving what we can in this country while we still can.

    Stop the wars, help the poor, fix the US tax structure, but save the great expanses of this country when you get a chance as well. The future will thank us for setting these aside.

  • floyd kendall

    floyd from greeley

    here we go government restricting the public again. what about the ellderly, or the handicap. They dont need to be able to enjoy these areas. If you have a business and tell everybody you are going to restrict, or make it almost impossilbe for the handicap and elderlly to get in see what happens.

  • Tony from Leadville

    You ask for comments, but you will do what you want anyway. What about all the usinesses connected to these areas that depend on the tourists that come to enjoy the land: like bike shops, jeep rentals, restuarants. Not to mention fisherman and hunters. See you at the next election.

  • Denny Niemeier

    We have seen millions of mult-iuse acers over the years locked up into wilderness and other none motorized areas. Motorized recreation users do not want to see more land locked up as wilderness. Note Wilderness designation eliminates all motorized and mechanized use including bicycles and puts some restrictions on equestrian use.

  • Asodeska

    First of all, Wilderness Areas are supposed to be areas that were never used in any way, never developed, no roads, etc. These areas do not qualify for that. Keep them as National Forests. They will have just as much appeal.
    Secondly, we cannot manage the National Monuments that we already have. There is no justification for making Monuments here. They simply do not qualify.

  • Windy

    How much wilderness do the Democrat’s need? More… more… and more and still not satisfied. How about the fact that the land is Colorado’s not the FEDS? Or hey it could also be private property. Is this a land grab by the FEDs via a Senator? A secret back door way of using not not using the eminent domain action?

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