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Old 09-12-2007, 07:55 PM
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Default Dianna DeGette and Wilderness Bill **MUST READ**

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Kristofer Eisenla, 202.225.4431 (o) | 202.225.3041 (c)

Chris Arend, 303-844-4988 (o) | 303-908-7910 (c)

September 12, 2007

DeGette Introduces Colorado Wilderness Act of 2007

Proposal protects 62 Areas designating 1.65 million acres of Colorado public land as Wilderness

DENVER – As Colorado's remaining wild lands continue to be threatened by oil and gas drilling and encroaching development, Chief Deputy Whip Diana DeGette (D- CO) today reintroduced the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2007. Joining Rep. DeGette at her press conference was Tresi Houpt, Garfield County Commissioner and member of the State Oil and Gas Commission, David Getches, Dean of the University of Colorado School of Law, Paul D’Elia from Patagonia Denver, and representatives and citizens from the Colorado conservation community.

Below are U.S. Rep. DeGette’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I am proud to be before you today to announce the reintroduction of the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2007. Since 1999 I have had the privilege of introducing legislation to protect wilderness quality public land across Colorado. However, since that time, our state has seen many of our states special places and wilderness areas put under pressure and in threat of being lost forever.

“That is why I am proud to announce my intention today to reintroduce an updated, revamped, and sweeping proposal to protect 62 separate areas across Colorado making up nearly 1.65 million acres of Coloradans’ public land as wilderness.

“I am pleased to be here with many advocates of wilderness in Colorado, including Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt, David Getches, Dean of the University of Colorado School of Law and Raphael J. Moses Professor of Natural Resources Law, Paul D’Elia of the Patagonia Corporation, as well as a number of conservation groups from across Colorado under the umbrella of the Colorado Wilderness Network, who for years have been the backbone and on the frontlines of defending wilderness in Colorado. Thank you for joining me today.

“We are gathered here to put protecting our public land literally back on the map. Colorado’s tremendous beauty and landscapes are always in the forefront of every Coloradan. It comes as no surprise then that in a recent poll 70 % of Coloradans supported more wilderness and wildlands in Colorado. Indeed Democrats, Republicans, Western Slope and Front Range residents alike support protecting our public lands.

“The poll showed that Coloradans support balance in our public lands management but we also want to protect the special areas of this State. Most of all, we want to leave what is special about Colorado for future generations.

“Colorado and our wilderness are at crossroads. In the last 7 years our State’s public lands have faced an onslaught like it has never seen from the Bush Administration, particularly on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Over 85,000 acres of wilderness quality public lands have already been leased for oil and gas drilling in Colorado and more are offered up every day.

“Drilling rigs, new roads, pipelines, more well pads, more noise, and more dust has tarnished our landscapes, impacted our communities, and disrupted sensitive wildlife.

“While there is room for energy development and leasing on our public lands, with over 80% of land available for oil and gas leasing, I think some of our most beautiful and sensitive areas should be off limits. This development is being allowed to encroach into our wildlands - removing from consideration many areas deserving of wilderness protection.

“I cannot stand by as a fourth generation Coloradan and let every last acre of our state be sold to the highest bidder in the latest lease sale.

“It is time to stand up for what makes Colorado special, for what brings thousands of tourists here year round providing consistent and long term benefits to our economy and communities. It is time to protect the sanctuaries our wildlife and endangered species depend on and to preserve for our children the Colorado we see and love today for future generations. It is time to protect the wild places of our state once and for all.

“I recognize the Colorado Wilderness Act is an ambitious proposal. However, it is my view that piece-mealing wilderness in this State, acre by acre, is a limited proposition and one which could delay the preservation of thousands of acres of public lands for an interminable amount of time.

“While individual areas may be easier to pass in the short term, the Colorado Wilderness Act in its totality is not as formidable as may seem - at 1.65 million acres the Colorado Wilderness Act makes up 1/8 of total Bureau of Land Management public land and only seven percent of total public land in our State. It consists of over 800,000 acres already managed by the BLM as wilderness study areas. Furthermore, the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2007 is a carefully researched proposal with its wilderness qualities and boundaries established using sophisticated geographic information systems and double checked on the ground by dedicated citizen volunteers.

“I also understand that wilderness and our public lands do not remain in an unchanging vacuum. I have made several changes to this legislation including adjusting boundaries for ongoing energy development and activities, but also adding several thousand acres of new areas which have been discovered and advocated by citizen volunteers since my original introduction in 1999.

“I am also happy to announce a significant compromise in this legislation. In Colorado we have a saying, “Whisky is for drinking and water is for fighting.” For too long the issue of water rights has been an unnecessary impediment to wilderness preservation in Colorado. In recognition of the importance of water and water rights in our state and in light of our recent drought and increased demands on water supplies, I have rewritten the water language in this bill to ensure the federal government plays by the State of Colorado’s water laws and regulations.

“Professor Getches will expound on this later. But this major change to my bill shows that I am committed to listening to all sides interested in public lands and wilderness issues in Colorado and open to reasonable changes and adjustments. As the wilderness debate moves forward, my promise to listen to all sides will stand and I look forward to an ongoing dialogue about wilderness in Colorado.

“Preserving wilderness in Colorado has always been hard - it brings a clash of interests and different philosophical views to a head. However, as President Kennedy, in our quest to land on the moon stated we choose to do such things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our skills and talents.”

“In our State’s history whenever we have chosen to preserve our limited special places, the process was always hard, but we rarely looked back in regret and often wondered why we did not do it sooner. More often then not it, establishing wilderness brought out the best in our leaders and the citizens of our great State.

“In closing I would like to leave you with a quote from one of the true wilderness leaders, former Senator Frank Church of Idaho who in talking about the Wilderness Act stated:

‘The great purpose is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it... It is a great spiritual experience. I never knew a man who took a bedroll into an Idaho mountainside and slept there under a star-studded summer sky who felt self-important that next morning. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust.’

“It is my goal and for those standing with me today, to preserve a small part of Colorado to honor the trust of future generations and to let our children’s children experience the Colorado we love and cherish today.”

For maps and detailed descriptions of the Colorado Wilderness Act please link to: http://canyoncountrywilderness.org

Below are the areas that would be protected under U.S. Rep. DeGette’s Wilderness Act:



Proposed Wilderness Area Acreage

Adobe Badlands 10,742
Badger Creek 25,229
Bangs Canyon 21,110
Beaver Creek 38,378
Big Ridge 24,887
Bitter Creek 3,021
Black Mountain - Windy Gulch 22,439
Browns Canyon 20,025
Bull Canyon 16,781
Bull Gulch 15,155
Castle Peak 16,263
Cold Spring Mountain 50,536
Cow Ridge 15,721
Cross Canyon 25,947
Cross Mountain 18,057
Deep Creek 20,843
Demaree Canyon 25,881
Diamond Breaks 34,009
Dinosaur Additions 63,469
Dolores River Canyon 41,133
Dominguez Canyons 84,410
Dominguez North 12,449
Dragon Canyon 6,748
Flat Tops Addition 16,427
Grand Hogback 11,701
Granite Creek 14,089
Grape Creek 44,372
Handies Peak 72,397
Hunter Canyon 32,126
Kings Canyon 9,398
Little Bookcliffs 30,557
Mares Tail 4,809
Maroon Bells 316
Maverick 20,585
McIntyre Hills 17,318
McKenna Peak 33,467
Norwood Canyon 13,288
Oil Spring Mountain 25,005
Pinyon Ridge 20,903
Pisgah Mountain 15,679
Platte River Addn 33
Powderhorn Addition 3,306
Prairie Canyon 18,687
Redcloud Peak 38,594
Rio Grande 10,863
Roan Plateau 40,494
Roubideau 22,604
S Shale Ridge 27,569
Sagebrush Pillows 5,143
San Luis Hills 23,536
Sewemup Mesa 65,448
Skull Creek 30,735
Snaggletooth 32,050
Table Mountain 27,888
The Palisade 26,914
Thompson Creek 25,285
Troublesome 119,676
Unaweep 39,392
Vermillion Basin 86,569
Weber-Menefee Mountain 14,598
West Elk Addition 6,878
Yampa River 12,436

Totals 1,674,368
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Last edited by Red_Chili; 09-13-2007 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 09-12-2007, 09:20 PM
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I would be mindful that others read these areas, and that your preface is quite attacking.

However, there are some key passages, one of which is:


“Professor Getches will expound on this later. But this major change to my bill shows that I am committed to listening to all sides interested in public lands and wilderness issues in Colorado and open to reasonable changes and adjustments. As the wilderness debate moves forward, my promise to listen to all sides will stand and I look forward to an ongoing dialogue about wilderness in Colorado.

“Preserving wilderness in Colorado has always been hard - it brings a clash of interests and different philosophical views to a head. However, as President Kennedy, in our quest to land on the moon stated we choose to do such things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our skills and talents.”

I think, that this can be be a good thing. I am feverishly against oil and gas drilling on the lands, and have seen the wanton destruction it brings to communities. No offense, but the way these companies prospect reminds me of a virus.

Also, I found this to ring true as well:

‘The great purpose is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it... It is a great spiritual experience. I never knew a man who took a bedroll into an Idaho mountainside and slept there under a star-studded summer sky who felt self-important that next morning. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust.’



I noticed that most of the areas are already wilderness. Although several appear to prevent easement by the feds, others are disturbing. Basically, this is a call to action, and I am hopeful that good will come out of this...

On of these areas by the way, Beaver Creek, I am hiking and fishing this weekend during a backpack trip. I can see no damage by that area, as I look at the map, being designated wilderness... especially since the map shows they leave the creek and those brookies "in bounds"

However, areas such as the flat tops addition, would remove several roads which are designated as access roads, and that bothers me...
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Old 09-12-2007, 10:20 PM
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Is the 4x4 community taking an organized approach to evaluating the proposal? Do we want our club to do the same?

FWIW, I know Dean Getches pretty well from my law school days. He is no radical and he really appreciates the divergent interests in our public land use.
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Old 09-12-2007, 10:38 PM
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Best thread title ever!!!!


She has never done anything worthwhile PERIOD. I would consider moving into her district just for the pleasure of voting against her.

Disclaimer:
The preceeding opinion is expressed by the poster and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Rising Sun 4Wheel Drive Club of Colorado.
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Old 09-13-2007, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inukshuk View Post
Is the 4x4 community taking an organized approach to evaluating the proposal? Do we want our club to do the same?
Daniel, are you volunteering? I think that part of the problem is that we in the 4 wheel drive community to not take the organized approach that the greenies do. I wonder if the state association has a comment on this proposal?
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Old 09-13-2007, 07:22 AM
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FWIW,
I read the proposal, and looked at SOME of the maps... From what I could see, this is a shot over the bow, and could definitely be worked with. I think a reasonable approach would be to look at each map, and assess the loss of roads in that area. Just cause it's a jeep trail doesn't mean it's a road, and vice versa. I don't have the time to commit, but I do want to watch this issue.

I really think this is aimed at the oil and gas folks, not the recreational community.

j
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Old 09-13-2007, 07:49 AM
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I primarily agree. Consider the language: we have already made a splash, and been acknowledged as an important interest. We are being differentiated from the kind of wanton impact you can plainly see in the Parachute area and which would rather devastate the Roan Plateau. The problem is, the only bullet in the federal gun to prevent oil and gas development and major impact seems to be Wilderness designation.

The public reads Wilderness as wilderness, meaning, 'wild backcountry'. They typically don't 'get it' that this means no bicycles, no vehicular access of any kind, no mechanized search and rescue (except under extreme circumstances, meaning, never). Who could be against 'wilderness'? Education is needed for one thing, but more importantly: another designation that permits reasonable recreation and vehicular access and OHV use, but which protects the land and is well managed.

And while we are at it, how about FUNDING such management? Hmmm??
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Old 09-13-2007, 09:52 AM
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None of the links on the map word for me.. anyone else? http://canyoncountrywilderness.org/maps.htm

But at the onset I don't really see the problem with this. What would change my mind would be to see a map of an area that we use for recreation, or could potentially use for recreation, then a map of from this Colorado Wilderness Act that shows that we'd no longer be able to use it.

I do realize that "wilderness" means "no access" but if we can't already access those areas so what? I don't think anyone in the club wants to fight to create new roads, for oil or recreation.. isn't our common goal preserving access to the roads that already exist? So show me how this threatens that, if this is so evil as you say that should be an easy task.
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Old 09-13-2007, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nakman View Post
I do realize that "wilderness" means "no access" but if we can't already access those areas so what? I don't think anyone in the club wants to fight to create new roads, for oil or recreation.. isn't our common goal preserving access to the roads that already exist? So show me how this threatens that, if this is so evil as you say that should be an easy task.
Your point is well made, but there's the rub: some of the areas proposed do indeed currently have access, and this bill would shut it off. I also AM fighting for new roads (primitive, 4x4 routes) where warranted, and we have enjoyed the addition of some new areas (Bangs Canyon, the Patriot Trail system, for examples). This is to counteract the loss of road and trail miles we are experiencing at a time when demand is increasing, which in turn increases per-mile trail impact on remaining routes. This will lead to further closures.

Another issue is making Wilderness out of areas that do not fully qualify, as a last ditch attempt to protect them from development. While the goal is laudable, it sets a very bad precedent for what qualifies.

But yeah, in areas that truly qualify, I for one do not oppose Wilderness designation. But we need something less than Wilderness designation that also prohibits commercial development.
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Old 09-13-2007, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shark Bait View Post
Daniel, are you volunteering? I think that part of the problem is that we in the 4 wheel drive community to not take the organized approach that the greenies do. I wonder if the state association has a comment on this proposal?
Who has the time! I used to volunteer for everything and that was not working for me. I could evaluate 2-3 areas and I think others could too. We would want somone to coordinate. I'd also be curious to see what, if any, organized statewide 4x4 effort there was. After all that, I could present our opinion directly to Getches and I have good contacts with DeGette's people too.
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