Last week, Congressman Scott Tipton held a listening session in Ouray to discuss his draft public lands proposal, the Colorado Recreation Enhancement Conservation Act. I attended this meeting alongside many of my neighbors and local elected officials, who all shared feedback with the congressman on his draft legislation.

I would like to thank Tipton for listening to his constituents about how best to preserve our natural heritage for future generations. We know this land, and many of us have been working for decades to protect the Thompson Divide and the San Juan Mountains.

At the listening session, I thanked Tipton for including protections for the San Juan Mountains in his draft. I also told the congressman how significant Colorado’s public lands are to my family as our grazing permit is located within the proposed Whitehouse Addition. I rely on healthy and protected lands and waters for my business to succeed, as do my fellow ranchers grazing their livestock on the Thompson Divide.

I urge Tipton to continue to listen to his constituents and include more robust protections for the public lands we all love and use for fun and work. Protecting and encouraging sustainable use of our great outdoors is key for the long-term economic health of our state.

I have been fortunate to call Ridgway home for over four decades. Furthermore, both my father and uncle trained at Camp Hale as part of the storied 10th Mountain Division. Preserving Camp Hale would honor veterans and their families, and protect a landscape that constitutes a piece of our country’s cultural and military history.

Thankfully, there is legislation that has already been introduced in Congress that would preserve not only the San Juan Mountains and the Thompson Divide, but also designate Camp Hale as our nation’s first National Historic Landscape, while also affording designations along the Continental Divide and formally designating Curecanti National Recreation Area. The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act was introduced by Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Joe Neguse earlier this year. I urge Tipton to listen to his constituents and co-sponsor and support the CORE Act.

Liza Clarke

Ferguson Family Ranches owner