Ahead of Colorado Public Lands Day, Bennet, Hickenlooper, Neguse Reintroduce CORE Act to Protect Public Lands, Safeguard Outdoor Recreation, and Boost Economy

Building on the Lawmakers' Conservations Wins in 2022, the CORE Act Protects 420,000 Acres of Colorado Public Land

Watch the Lawmakers’ Virtual Press Conference HERE

Washington, D.C. — Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and Colorado U.S. Representative Joe Neguse reintroduced the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act. The 2023 CORE Act protects approximately 420,000 acres of public land in Colorado, establishes new wilderness areas, and safeguards existing outdoor recreation opportunities to boost the economy for future generations.

“Colorado’s public lands fuel more than our economy – they are a cornerstone of our way of life. The CORE Act is the result of years of conversation and compromise to boost our economy and protect our public lands for future generations,” said Bennet. “Last year, we achieved a major victory for Colorado’s public lands when we established the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument and secured a proposed administrative mineral withdrawal for the Thompson Divide. But our work is not done. It’s time to pass the CORE Act.”

“The CORE Act is the result of over a decade of hard work and collaboration from Coloradans to protect our lands,” said Hickenlooper. “This bill promotes conservation to combat climate change, invest in our outdoor recreation economy, and protect our public lands for the next generation — let’s get it done!”

“I’m proud to again lead the CORE Act in the House, which is the product of an over a decade-long collaboration between local leaders, ranchers, conservationists and many others. Folks who have come together to create legislation that preserves some of Colorado’s most treasured public lands and boosts our state’s outdoor recreation economy. Last Congress, we had tremendous momentum in our work to enact this bill – including the designation of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument by President Biden – and I look forward to building on that, and getting this bill passed for the people of Colorado,” said Neguse.

Last year, Bennet, Hickenlooper, and Neguse led the push to establish the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument and secure a proposed administrative mineral withdrawal for the Thompson Divide – critical provisions of the original CORE Act, first introduced in 2019. 

The CORE Act combines four previously introduced Colorado public land bills, which have been in development over the past decade. Of the land protected by the bill, 71,000 acres are designated as new wilderness, and nearly 80,000 acres are designated as new recreation and conservation management areas that preserve existing outdoor uses, such as hiking and mountain biking. The bill also designates the Sandy Treat Overlook and Tenmile Wilderness in the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, and establishes a permanent mineral withdrawal in areas important to ranchers and sportsmen in the Thompson Divide.

Statements of Support:

“The CORE Act is an example of Coloradans coming together, working together for more than a decade, to permanently protect some of our state's most treasured places and the future of our outdoor recreation economy and jobs. While we applaud the President's designation of Camp Hale as a National Monument, the rest of the CORE Act deserves to get across to the President’s desk and its reintroduction this Congress is a key step in that process,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis.

“Gunnison County has worked for years on the Curecanti and Thompson Divide elements of the CORE Act. We have fought long and hard for the CORE Act because our constituents believe in these sensible public lands protections that are vital to our economy, our values and the enduring opportunity these lands will provide for future generations,” said Jonathan Houck, Gunnison County Commissioner. “For many years, we have worked with diverse stakeholders to develop sensible landscape scale protective measures that match the values of our communities and our desire to see these productive and pristine landscapes thoughtfully protected. We are thankful to Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper and Congressman Neguse for their leadership and persistence on the CORE Act.”

"Now, more than ever, it's time for the Senate to pass the CORE Act.  We applaud the CORE Act for balancing the needs of wildlife and watershed protections with recreational and other uses of the forest,” said Kathy Chandler Henry, Eagle County Commissioner. “This collaborative legislative process has involved our water providers, conservation and recreational groups, and businesses.  This important bill strengthens Colorado's recreation economy and is supported by stakeholders throughout the state. The recently-created Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument was an outgrowth of work on the CORE Act, and this treasured landscape helps to preserve and highlight an incredible piece of history and the legacy of the Tenth Mountain Division in Eagle County.  Eagle County thanks Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper and Congressman Neguse for their stewardship of public lands; our grandchildren will be grateful these cherished lands were conserved in Western Colorado."

“After all these years, we certainly hope the CORE Act can finally pass Congress and be signed into law,” said Scott Fetchenier, San Juan County Commissioner.  “This type of legislation is just what we need to protect our public lands, bolster our recreation based economy, and help prevent climate change.” 

“Summit County is excited to see the CORE Act's reintroduction with the full support of our Governor and our Congressional delegation Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper and Congressman Neguse who we thank for their leadership and advocacy for our public lands. Public lands are the foundation of our economy in our community and drive our recreation economy. While we are ecstatic about the creation of the new Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument we would still like to see the full CORE Act passed into law to provide the long term protection these lands deserve. said Elisabeth Lawrence, Summit County Commissioner.

 “I am grateful to see the CORE Act will be reintroduced by Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper, and Congressman Neguse,” said Greg Poschman, Pitkin County Commissioner. “While it is great to see the administrative mineral withdrawal that our congressional leadership requested for Thompson Divide moving forward, we still need to get the full CORE Act done to provide permanent legislative protection for Thompson Divide. The CORE Act is critical for our economy, our ranching community at Thompson Divide and for the benefit of the growing number of Americans who seek outdoor recreation. Our western United States water supply comes from natural mountainous “Water Towers” like these high country lands in the CORE Act. American prosperity and quality of life depends on protecting our water supplies. This is our time to ensure these public lands are protected for future generations of Americans.”

“Our public lands define and enrich our lives in Colorado and the CORE’s Act proposed protections for some of the most iconic peaks in the San Juan Mountains has long been a priority for San Miguel County. We wholeheartedly support the continued effort by Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper and Congressman Neguse to continue the effort on behalf of our community to pass the CORE Act into law. Protection of our public lands is critical to our wildlife and our economy and we will continue to advocate for Congress to pass this important legislation. We also appreciate and support the new provision added to this bill that will help move us forward to address safety concerns for nordic skiers on Lizard Head pass,” said Lance Waring, San Miguel County Commissioner. 

"The CORE Act is the best example of grassroots stakeholders working together, building consensus, and protecting private property rights I have ever experienced in a public lands bill.  Expanding Sneffels Wilderness to protect one of Colorado's most sensitive and iconic wild places needs to happen now,” said Lynn Padgett, Ouray County Commissioner. 

“As a rancher who relies on the Thompson Divide for our summer grazing, I am hoping for the passage of the CORE Act. It will bring needed protection to this area which is so critical to my family and fellow ranchers and also for the entire community, who utilizes these amazing lands for hunting and year-round recreation,” said Bill Fales, Cold Mountain Ranch, rancher in the Thompson Divide. Protection is even more vital today to safeguard the unprecedented levels of use of these USFS lands by the public. Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper and Congressman Neguse have been fantastic in advancing this bill and while we are now making progress on securing additional administrative protections for the Thompson Divide we need to continue to work to get permanent legislative protection through the CORE Act.”

More details about the CORE Act are available HERE.