Senate Passes Amendment to Protect Colorado Public Lands

Also Includes Bipartisan Proposal to Pay Colorado Back to Keep Rocky Mountain National Park Open during 2013 Shutdown

Washington, D.C. - The Senate today adopted a package of public lands bills as an amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act that the Senate is currently debating. The amendment includes several measures sponsored by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to protect public lands in Colorado, including the parts of Arapaho National Forest and Pike National Forest. It also includes a provision to reimburse states that provided funds to temporarily reopen national parks during the 2013 government shutdown.

"Colorado's public lands help drive our state's tourism and outdoor recreation economy," Bennet said. "This amendment ensures that Colorado is finally repaid for stepping in to keep Rocky Mountain National Park open during the government shutdown. It also helps protect two of our state's most popular outdoor locations and ensure that their pristine characteristics are preserved for future generations."

Bennet-backed provisions included:

  • Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act: A bipartisan bill Bennet introduced that would protect ten parcels within a "wedge" of land between Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapaho National Forest by incorporating the land into Arapaho National Forest. The Forest Service currently owns seven of the ten lots that comprise the "wedge." The Forest boundary has never been adjusted to include them within the Arapaho National Forest because it requires legislative action. The bipartisan bill also allows the U.S. Forest Service to acquire land in the "wedge" from interested landowners to preserve the region. Senator Cory Gardner is a cosponsor of the bill.
  • National Park Access Act: A bipartisan bill Bennet introduced with Senators Gardner, Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and John McCain (R-AZ) that would reimburse states that provided funds to temporarily reopen national parks during the 2013 government shutdown. During the government shutdown in October 2013, six states - Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah - advanced $2 million to the National Park Service to temporarily reopen iconic national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty. Following the shutdown, Congress retroactively funded the Park Service, which has since retained the $2 million state contribution as a shutdown windfall. 
  • Crags, Colorado Land Exchange Act: A bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Cory Gardner that would facilitate a federal land exchange where the Forest Service would acquire pristine land in the Pike National Forest allowing for more outdoor recreation near Pikes Peak.