Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton is drafting a public lands bill to safeguard places sacred to sportsmen and women in qestern Colorado.
Trout Unlimited is working closely with other members of Colorado’s elected delegation on the CORE Act to provide protections critical for fish, wildlife, and public lands, and it looks forward to working with the 3rd Congressional District leader to explore additional options that are favorable to all public land users.
Areas of importance to TU include the San Juan Mountains, the Curecanti National Recreation Area, and especially the Thompson Divide.
The Thompson Divide is an area of primarily Forest Service and BLM public lands spanning Pitkin, Gunnison and Garfield counties with longstanding history for TU. It holds the headwaters of critically important habitat for native cutthroat trout and provides an extensive and healthy corridor for the multitude of wildlife species that call it home. But its fragile mid-elevation habitat remains under threat from oil and gas development and severe fragmentation of currently roadless terrain.
The CORE Act includes balanced legislative protection from future development of public lands on Thompson Divide that maintains broad support from local government entities as well as Rep. Tipton’s constituents living in the area, so TU was greatly disappointed by the lack of any protections whatsoever for Thompson Divide included in the initial draft of Rep. Tipton’s Colorado Recreation Enhancement and Conservation Act (REC Act).
Another area of concern for TU with Rep. Tipton’s REC Act is the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Under the CORE Act, legislation would require the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to create public fishing easements to compensate anglers for the 26 miles of river access along the Gunnison River lost to inundation when Blue Mesa Reservoir was created, as well as to ensure improved habitat to enhance fishing conditions. The removal of these requirements in the REC Act is another missed opportunity. TU hopes to work with Rep. Tipton to include this important resource for anglers.
While there are significant areas of the REC Act that fall short, TU is delighted to see the additions of proposed wilderness in the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness that will protect several native Rio Grande cutthroat trout populations as well as wilderness proposals for broad swaths of the San Juan Mountains.
Each of these public lands and waters holds valuable fishing resources and critical wildlife habitat, and TU is eager to see them protected for the benefit of everyone. TU hopes that Rep. Tipton will work with other Colorado elected officials and come to a consensus that will benefit all users and protect these valuable lands. If healthy habitats, public lands and any of these areas are cherished by you, please reach out to Rep. Tipton and ask him to include them in the REC Act.