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November 14, 2014   |   by Michael Bennet

Progress Toward Protecting Hermosa Creek

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We made progress this week on our bill to protect the Hermosa Creek Watershed.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved our bill, putting it one step closer to becoming law. It received bipartisan support from committee members, including Senator Mark Udall, one of our cosponsors.

The Hermosa Creek Watershed‎ represents some of the best that Colorado has to offer, whether it is hiking, snowmobiling, biking, fishing for cutthroat trout, or just enjoying the natural beauty in the solitude of the Wilderness.

Here's what our bill would do:

  • Designate approximately 70,650 acres of the San Juan Nation Forest land as the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area. Much of the land would remain open to all historic uses of the forest, including mountain biking, motorized recreation, and selective timber harvesting. Grazing would continue to be allowed throughout the entire watershed.
  • Set aside nearly 38,000 acres as Wilderness, to be managed in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964. No roads or mineral development are permitted in Wilderness areas; while hunting, fishing, horseback riding and non-mechanized recreation are allowed.

Click here to read more about the bill.

This bipartisan bill is the result of local communities throughout Southwest Colorado coming together and finding consensus among their competing interests for the land. Four years ago, we convened the Hermosa Creek River Protection Workgroup, which included conservationists, equestrians, hunters, anglers, water interests, mountain bikers, mining and timber interests, snowmobilers, ATV riders and motorcyclists, the agricultural community, tribal interests, city and county governments, land managers and many others through Southwest Colorado. This coalition has kept its eye on the ball and continued to work together to pass a bill that meets everyone's goals.

Moving forward, Congressman Tipton, who has been our partner in the House of Representatives, and I will continue to fight to pass this bill in Congress before the end of the year.

Colorado is again a model for Washington. All of our work on this bill demonstrates the type of collaboration and compromise we need more of back there.

As we enter a new year and a new Congress, our office will continue to work with Coloradans from across the state to bring fresh thinking and find consensus so that we can tackle our nation's toughest problems.


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