Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet introduced and supported multiple agriculture and public lands priorities as amendments to the package of four appropriations bills (or “minibus”) introduced in the Senate last week.
“There is a lot of important work that we should be doing in the Senate. This includes protecting and maintaining our public lands, and expanding overseas markets for our farmers and ranchers,” said Bennet. “I’ll continue to look for every opportunity to move these Colorado priorities forward.”
Bennet-led amendments include:
- Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act: Introduced by Bennet and U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-2), the CORE Act would protect approximately 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, establishing new wilderness areas and safeguarding existing outdoor recreation opportunities to boost the economy for future generations. This amendment mirrors the language of the CORE Act that passed the House Committee on Natural Resources in June, and will be considered on the House floor this week. The amendment text is available HERE.
- Agricultural Export Expansion Act: This amendment is modeled after the Agricultural Export Expansion Act, a bill introduced by Bennet and U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) in May to remove a major hurdle for farmers and ranchers to selling American agricultural products in the Cuban market. Bennet was joined by U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) in filing this amendment. The amendment text is available HERE.
- Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails: This amendment would help address the U.S. Forest Service’s significant maintenance backlog by establishing a program to repair and maintain Forest Service roads, trails, and bridges. It would also improve wildlife habitat by ensuring the Forest Service decommissions unneeded roads and trails and restores degraded habitat. The amendment text is available HERE.
- Increased Scrutiny of Oil and Gas Lease Sales Near National Parks: This amendment would require the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct additional review to consider the potential effects of oil and gas lease sales within 15 miles of National Parks on local economies, recreation, and wildlife. It also allows for greater public participation in the lease sale process. The amendment text is available HERE. The amendment is supported by the following stakeholders:
“This amendment is long overdue and will provide much-needed protections for public lands like Rocky Mountain National Park and the health of the surrounding communities. Comprehensive planning and thorough consultation, especially in areas where parcels are on the table so close to our public lands, is only common sense,” said Estee Rivera, Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Conservancy.
"Here in the San Luis Valley, where we cherish our public lands for their beauty as well as the economic benefits they bring to our communities, the need for a comprehensive planning and a thoughtful leasing process is extremely crucial at this time. Our community has seen first-hand leasing threats to even our most cherished areas like the Great Sand Dunes National park and surrounding areas. I fully support this amendment that will help ensure the continued preservation these treasures require,” said Jason Anderson, Saguache County Commissioner (District 1).
“This amendment comes directly from listening to the rural communities that are actively working to diversify their economies. The amendment is long overdue and will provide much-needed protections for public and the health of its surrounding areas. Comprehensive planning, thorough consultation, and local input- especially in areas where parcels are on the table so close to our public lands- are essential to this process,” said Sarah Shrader, Owner and Co-Founder, Bonsai Design; and Chair, Outdoor Recreation Coalition of the Grand Valley.
Bennet-backed amendments include:
- Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP): Bennet joined U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on an amendment to fully fund CFLRP at $80 million. As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry, Bennet led the effort to double the authorized funding for CFLRP in the 2018 Farm Bill to $80 million, but the current minibus only provides $40 million. The amendment text is available HERE.
- Ski Area Fee Retention Act: Bennet and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced an amendment to ensure that the fees generated by ski areas would be retained in the National Forests they are generated in. This would provide the Forest Service more resources in heavily trafficked forests, such as the White River National Forest in Colorado, for permit administration and review. The amendment mirrors the bill introduced by Bennet and Gardner in June.