(CBS4) – A sweeping bill to protect 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado could soon become law. Sen. John Hickenlooper, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, held a hearing Wednesday to discuss the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.

Sen. John Hickenlooper (credit: CBS)

The bill, also known as  the CORE Act, would preserve 73,000 acres as wilderness, set aside 80,000 acres for recreation and conservation, and close 200,000 acres on the Thompson Divide to oil and gas development. The legislation would also create the first-ever National Historic Landscape on 29,000 acres surrounding Camp Hale, where the U.S. Amy’s 10th Mountain Division trained for World War II.

Area near Camp Hale, outside Leadville (credit: Jenna Tabor)

Hickenlooper says Coloradans from different interest groups across the state had input on the bill.

“It was built from the bottom up with Republicans and Democrats. It was built with environmentalists but also hunters and fishermen and farmers and ranchers. It really is a collective product of people trying to give a higher level of protection just to make sure that we deliver to our grandchildren and great grandchildren these jewels we inherited,” Hickenlooper said.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, opposes the bill, calling it a “partisan land grab.” Boebert’s district includes much of the public land included in the legislation. 

“Despite roughly 65% of the lands affected by this bill being in my district, I was never consulted on this bill, and common-sense changes proposed by Senator Gardner last Congress were also not incorporated,” stated Boebert. “While locking up land may sound good to the swamp, it doesn’t work for the people who actually live there.”

The legislation has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Sponsors of the bill include Hickenlooper, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District. 

Shaun Boyd