Will Congress act?
FRISCO — In May, Congressman Jared Polis reintroduced a bill to create about 39,000 acres of new wilderness in Summit and Eagle counties.
According to Polis, the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act will help sustain recreational resources, protect watersheds, preserve important wildfire corridors, and strengthen Colorado’s tourism economy.
Along with new wilderness, the bill would also designate 16,000 acres as special management areas for recreation, and where some other activities, including wildfire mitigation and forest health treatments would be permitted.
Trace the history of Polis’ push for new wilderness in the central Colorado mountains in these Summit Voice stories going back to 2010.
Congressman Jared Polis’ introduction of the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act should be applauded. This bill, the result of 5 years of local community engagement and consensus, is important not just to the central Rocky Mountains but to Colorado as a whole. Many Coloradans know this area for the endless recreational opportunities, whether it’s hiking, biking, camping, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, or just relaxing. As the owner of Seymour Lodging Corp, Colorado wilderness is of particular importance to me.
Owning a small business is never easy, particularly when your business is dependent on external factors such as weather and consumer discretionary income. Fortunately for myself and many other small business owners across the state, the designation of wilderness, in addition to enhancing quality of life, makes local tourism a little more secure.
The Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act protects many areas in the White River National Forest, which draws more than 9 million visitors annually; these visitors then support local tourism and outdoor recreation businesses.
The outdoor recreation industry in Colorado is a critical part of the state’s economy which generates $13.2 billion annually in consumer spending, and supports 125,000 jobs which pay over $4 billion in wages to Coloradans. Many small mountain towns count on tourism and outdoor recreation to stay afloat. I know personally how difficult this can be, and I would like to thank Congressman Polis for investing in the state of Colorado.
After reading about the recent introduction of the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act, I wanted to publicly thank Representative Jared Polis for his work protecting Colorado. As an avid hiker, I deeply enjoy spending free time in the Central Mountains.
Over the past 5 years Rep. Polis has worked with a plethora of local stakeholders to ensure that this legislation truly helps to support the local community- this hard work has paid off, garnering the support of everyone from mountain bikers and conservationists to hunters and small businessmen.
If passed, the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act would provide important protections for key watersheds in the Central Mountains and safeguard our ever-valuable Colorado water for local communities and the greater Front Range. As well, the Act would protect some of Colorado’s best fishing streams and preserve valuable wildlife habitat; thank you, Representative Polis!
Eddie Welsh is history and political science major at Colorado State University. He has a special interest in environmental issues here in Colorado, particularly in the Central Mountains where he spend a great deal of time.