Legislation to conserve 400,000 acres of public land now moves to U.S. Senate
WASHINGTON D.C. (October 31, 2019) – Today, Trout Unlimited celebrates the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act (CORE Act) passing through the U.S. House of Representatives and moving on to the U.S. Senate. This important legislation conserves more than 400,000 acres of public lands in the Centennial State, along with fish, wildlife and the traditional sportsmen’s values of Colorado’s Western Slope.
“Hunters and anglers across the state applaud the members of the House for passing this important legislation protecting our public lands and the vital fish and wildlife habitat they provide here in Colorado,” said Scott Willoughby, Colorado public lands coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “The CORE Act balances public access to fishing, hunting and recreation in these special places with protection of pristine headwaters that support native trout populations. Following today’s vote, we look forward to working with the Colorado delegation to move this bill forward in the Senate.”
The four components of the CORE Act provide protection and improved access to public lands in western Colorado. It expands wilderness designations in the San Juan Mountains, increases fishing access and streamlines management of the Curecanti National Recreation Area and permanently protects the Thompson Divide from inappropriate oil and gas development. Lastly, it also establishes special management areas along the Continental Divide, including a first-of-its-kind National Historic Landscape honoring Colorado’s military legacy at Camp Hale where the 10th Mountain Division trained for winter combat in World War II.
Trout Unlimited members have long advocated for protection for these unique landscapes, including the Thompson Divide, where nearly half of the CORE Act’s protected lands provide a largely roadless refuge for numerous economically and ecologically important wildlife species, including native trout and large populations of elk and mule deer that require room to roam.
“Preserving wildlife connectivity and protecting our waters and lands is of utmost importance to sportsmen living in Colorado as well as those who travel here to take advantage of what these special areas offer,” Willoughby said. “Economic impacts from sportsmen are a big driver in Colorado, so ensuring more access and opportunities is critical to maintaining our recreation economy and the license revenue required by Colorado Parks and Wildlife for fish and wildlife management.”
Among the benefits of the CORE Act, the Curecanti Boundary Establishment Act promises to restore an additional 11.5 miles of public fishing access in the Gunnison River Basin due to an as-yet unfulfilled mitigation obligation from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation dating back to the creation of Blue Mesa Reservoir and the surrounding Aspinall Unit in the late 1960s. Additionally, the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act will benefit the San Miguel, Uncompahgre, and Animas watersheds, protecting 2.5 miles of Colorado River cutthroat trout habitat, which currently occupy less than 10 percent of their historic range.
“TU deeply appreciates Representative Neguse’s efforts and the strong support of Chairman Grijalva for enabling its passage,” said Willoughby. “It is a true testament to Colorado’s commitment to investing in our treasured public lands and outdoor recreation economy.”
About Trout Unlimited:
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and our blog for all the latest information on trout and salmon conservation.