Jared Polis to serve on House Resources Committee


Congressman Jared Polis.

Colorado lawmaker expected to be a pro-environment voice on a panel led conservative Republicans who often undermine federal efforts to manage public lands on the behalf of all Americans

Staff Report

FRISCO — A languishing proposal to create new wilderness areas in the Colorado mountains may get a boost in Congress this year, as U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02) joins the House Natural Resources Committee.

In the last two years, the committee has been a bastion of anti-government rhetoric, in some cases considering bills that would significantly weaken protection for natural resources and public lands. As a member of the minority, Polis won’t be able to get any meaningful legislation passed on his own, but his pro-environmental voice will be a welcome addition for public lands advocates. Continue reading

Colorado wilderness bills bottled up in Congress

Half a dozen proposals for land protection span more than 1 million acres


Proposed new wilderness areas include open meadows on the west flank of the Williams Fork Range. bberwyn photo.

acorn creek

The proposed Acorn Creek wilderness addition would add important wildlife habitat to the existing high-elevation Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness Area.

By Bob Berwyn

*Click here to learn more about this weekend’s hike in proposed new Summit County wilderness area

SUMMIT COUNTY — There may be a huge backlog of wilderness bills in Congress, but conservation advocates aren’t about to give up on their efforts to preserve public lands in Colorado. Read more about the political wrangling over wilderness in this Summit Voice story.

In fact, the recent oil and gas boom on the Western Slope has recharged wilderness protection efforts, as supporters rally around the new “equal ground” theme, asking President Obama and Congress to protect at least as many acres as are allocated for energy development.

Along with being ecologically important, protected areas are increasingly seen as critical to the region’s recreation economy. Protected areas also enhance property values in adjacent communities.

In Colorado, there are six proposals that would expand wilderness by more than 1 million acres. The biggest is U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette‘s Colorado Wilderness Act, which includes 31 areas for a total of 750,000 acres, including many chunks of mid-elevation lands that are crucial for wildlife. Continue reading

Udall: Wilderness is a ‘great economic engine’

Eagles Nest Wilderness, Summit County, Colorado. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Local meeting set to take input on latest wilderness plan

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Local residents will have a chance to weigh in and ask questions about the latest version of a plan to add big chunks of new wilderness in Summit County this week, when members of Sen.Mark Udall’s staff  hold office hours in Breckenridge (3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Colorado Mountain College).

The session is aimed at connecting constituents with staffers who can answer questions, show constituents draft maps of the proposed areas, and start gathering public comment on the plans for the Central Mountains wilderness (Summit, Eagle and Pitkin counties) and the Arkansas River Canyon and Browns Canyon (Chaffee County).  The public is invited to attend these office hours.

The wilderness plan started out as a citizen-driven initiative, as volunteers worked to identify areas that may meet wilderness standards. It became the Hidden Gems proposal, then later was modified slightly and shaped into a legislative proposal by Congressman Jared Polis. Continue reading

Opinion: High country businesses support wilderness

Economic benefits of quiet recreation are profound

Wilderness is good for business.

By Josh Lautenberg

Senator Mark Udall is right on target when he talks about the value of protected wilderness for our local economy.

Here in Vail, and in places like Aspen, Snowmass Village, Eagle and Breckenridge, our economy has prospered over the years in large part because of its location in the heart of the Colorado Rockies.

So how does wilderness support the economy?

Because of their famous majesty and beauty, the Rocky Mountains attract visitors from around the world. Think of all the people who can’t wait to leave behind the noise and pollution of the city to come here for their week or two in the mountains. To be able to smell the fresh air and stare at the perfect Colorado blue skies. Continue reading

Sen. Udall sets wilderness info meeting in Avon

Gore Range, Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.

Public comments wanted

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Sen. Mark Udall’s staff this month will start taking public input to help shape a possible wilderness bill that could encompass many parcels of land previously included in the grassroots, citizen-driven Hidden Gems wilderness campaign, as well as a House bill introduced by Rep. Jared Polis.

The first meeting is set for March 14 at the Avon library (3 p.m. to 5 p.m.). Another meeting is planned for later in the month in Summit County, where there has already been an extensive collaborative stakeholder process to discuss potential wilderness additions and other specially designated recreation and conservation areas.

Udall has said his wilderness effort will be a community-driven process that could also result in designation of the Arkansas River Canyon as a national monument and Browns Canyon as a new wilderness area.

Udall met with business community leaders in Eagle County this week to get some additional input. He has touted the wilderness and monument designations as a benefit to the state’s recreation economy.

Draft maps and other information on the proposals are online at Udall’s website.

Colorado: Sen. Udall joins push for new wilderness

Protected areas touted as driver of recreation economy

Summer in the Eagles Nest Wilderness.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A slew of wilderness proposals for lands in Summit and Eagle counties that have been stuck in a gridlocked, do-nothing U.S. House of Representatives could gain traction in the Senate, where Mark Udall says he will introduce a wilderness bill once he’s taken input from local communities and other stakeholders.

“Starting today, I am kicking off a collaborative, community-driven process to listen to the community and create legislation to protect Colorado’s outdoor heritage in two very special places in our state – the Central Mountains and the Arkansas River Canyon,” Udall wrote on his blog. Continue reading

Most-viewed and week in review

Biodiversity, climate change, snowpack and the Colorado River …

This chinstrap penguin may soon be even more lonely, as global warming depletes the species' food source. Chinstrap penguin numbers have dropped by half the past 30 years. COPYRIGHTED PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

SUMMIT COUNTY — An environmental story about a stunning decline in Antarctic penguin populations was the most-viewed story the past few days at Summit Voice, garnering more than 700 page views. Stories on record snowpack, national forest plans and the Colorado River next on the list, and, showing the global voice of Summit Voice, a pair of stories about oceanography rounded out the top six. Click on the headlines to read the stories and please pass them along via your own social media networks with the share button at the end of each story.


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