On May 18, Coloradans celebrated Colorado Public Lands Day. It seems a fitting time to remind readers and elected officials about the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act (CORE Act), which Senator Bennet and Representative Neguse introduced to Congress on Jan. 28. I urge Senator Gardner and Representative Tipton to support the CORE Act. The CORE Act is a comprehensive, broadly supported bill that designates public lands specifically for recreation, wildlife and historic features, while preserving agricultural uses and protecting water quality.

The CORE Act would:

• Designate Camp Hale as our nation’s first national historic landscape where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II, and whose veterans essentially founded Colorado’s ski industry. Veterans have long advocated for the designation of this important historic site.

• Create sustainable recreational opportunities in the White River National Forest (the nation’s most-visited national forest) and the San Juan Mountains by protecting lands as wilderness and special management areas.

• Withdraw the rugged wild lands of the Thompson Divide area in the White River National Forest from future oil, gas or mining development, while maintaining existing uses, including grazing, hunting and outdoor recreation opportunities. This landscape also includes Colorado’s largest intact aspen grove along scenic Kebler Pass.

• Permanently protect approximately 73,000 acres as wilderness by expanding existing wilderness areas such as Mt. Sneffels, Holy Cross, Lizard Head and Eagles Nest to include lands that were left out of the initial wilderness designations, and establishing four new wilderness areas: Hoosier Ridge, McKenna Peak, Tenmile and Williams Fork.

For decades local communities have been advocating for protection of historic sites, recreation areas, unspoiled wilderness lands, as well as waterways and wildlife habitat through individual pieces of legislation. Senator Bennet and Representative Neguse recognize the broad support and demand for this comprehensive effort to protect these places for current and future generations, as well as for the benefit of wildlife, watersheds and air quality. Each of the places named in this legislation had been part of other proposals and collaborative efforts supported by numerous county commissions, municipalities, ranchers, recreation users, organizations and businesses. When you look at these efforts as one initiative, this may be the broadest support for legislation to protect Colorado’s public lands ever seen across the state.

Please contact Senator Gardner and Representative Tipton to urge their support for the CORE Act. Your voice matters.

Robyn Cascade