Hermosa Creek: a backcountry treasure
by Randy Scholfield
Colorado has a message for Congress on the Hermosa Creek watershed protection bill: Just pass it already. Editorial writer Alicia Caldwell's column in today's Denver Post pointed out that the popular recreation area near Durango is supported by everyone--everyone--in the local community: anglers, hunters, mountain bikers, ATV riders, horse enthusiasts, hikers, miners. Everyone wants this backcountry treasure kept the way it is, including Republican Congressman Scott Tipton and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. Everyone gave a little to make it happen.
As Caldwell noted, "The watershed protection plan is the epitome of collaboration. Its list of supporters and champions includes dozens of businesses and sporting and conservation groups." The multi-year stakeholder process, spearheaded by Trout Unlimited, resulted in a carefully crafted bill that preserves diverse uses: 38,000 acres of Hermosa are preserved as wilderness, the highest level protection, and 70.000 acres would remain open to motorized and mechanized users on the existing network of heavily used trails.
The coming month is a prime opportunity to get this bill across the finish line, says TU's Hermosa campaign organizer, Ty Churchwell, before the distraction and hyper-partisanship of an election season takes hold.
Hermosa supporters have provided a model for how to work together. Now it's Congress' turn. Let's get this bill done.
Randy Scholfield is TU's communications director for the Southwest region.