The Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign, a citizen-generated plan, is seeking designation of major new wilderness additions on the White River and Gunnison National Forests and nearby Bureau of Land Management lands, to grant the highest protection to some of Colorado’s most precious and threatened public and wildlife lands. In all, the Gems encompass 342,000 acres of western Colorado.
In 2010 the Pitkin County Commissioners endorsed the plan to designate more than 62,000 acres of Pitkin County forest as federal wilderness. In 2011 Rep Jared Polis introduced a bill which designates much of the proposed wilderness in the Summit and Eagle County portions of the Hidden Gems Proposal. Senator Bennet announced that he is ready to start working on legislation, and in 2012 Senator Mark Udall started working on a plan to create new wilderness, including Hidden Gems areas in Pitkin, Eagle and Summit Counties.
The campaign has been working hard to address the concerns of stakeholders, making boundary adjustments for various forest users. A growing number of citizens and businesses have voiced their support for the effort, citing the economic value of wilderness, a vast resource for the state’s tourism economy. The campaign continues to work with Senator Udall and Congressman Tipton on the proposal.
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