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. Proposed wilderness protections in Summit County include areas like Acorn Creek, Elliot Ridge, Tenmile and Williams Fork.
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 outdoor recreation industry supports over 100,000 jobs and generates over $10 billion in revenue a year here in Colorado.
The Eagle and Summit County Wilderness Preservation Act was re-introduced in the House on Earth Day of 2011 by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis. The bill protects 166,000 acres of wildlands as wilderness and special management areas, including a portion of Hidden Gems areas in Eagle and Summit Counties.
In February 2012 Senator Mark Udall announced that he is interested in protecting new wilderness in Colorado’s central mountains. He published a series of maps showing proposal areas, including some of the Hidden Gems lands proposed in Pitkin, Summit and Eagle counties. He is committed to working with citizens and collecting input on proposed wilderness areas.
The campaign continues to build community support and work with elected officials to ultimately get a bill passed in Congress. The aerial perspective is important in getting elected officials and the public to see the value of these areas and how they connect the greater landscape.
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