Today, Mark Udall announced that he is embarking on a series of collaborative, community-driven discussions about whether to create wilderness and national monument designations in two areas of the state - the Central Mountains (Summit, Eagle and Pitkin counties) and Browns Canyon (Chaffee County). At a press conference Sunday, Udall outlined his plans to get feedback to help shape potential legislation that would support the communities' interests, protect public lands, and strengthen Colorado jobs and quality of life.
"Wilderness is one of our state's great economic engines. Wilderness areas not only give local outdoors enthusiasts beautiful vistas and healthy game, but they also attract visitors and businesses that help the state economy thrive," Udall said. "Before we do anything, it's important to me to hear from as many Coloradans as possible about how the land is used today and their vision for the future of these special places. If we do wilderness in the right way - with a bottom-up rather than top-down approach - protecting public lands will help attract entrepreneurs to our state, create jobs and support the quality of life that makes Colorado the envy of the world."
To start the process, which has the support of Senator Michael Bennet, Udall is asking Coloradans in those communities and a wide range of interest groups what they would like to see from a wilderness proposal. His goal is to build on work that has been done previously - including efforts by Representatives Diana DeGette and Jared Polis - and develop a legislative plan that is supported by a majority of the communities affected. With his position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Udall has an opportunity to further push these community plans toward fruition.
In order to facilitate the conversation with the affected communities, Udall has developed draft maps of possible wilderness boundaries to help start the discussions. The maps, along with an email comment form, are available on his website: http://markudall.senate.gov/outdoorheritage. The two proposals are: