Despite decades of political divide, we may yet be united through our love of public lands and the need to protect them. In an impressive 92-to-8 vote, the Senate just passed the largest public lands bill in almost a generation. The 662 page measure is a huge victory for conservation with 1.3 million acres being newly designated as wilderness and four national monuments created. The bill protects 370,000 acres of land from future mining and 620 miles of river in seven states would be protected from damming and development. Add to all this some great news for anyone living in wildfire prone states, firefighting technology would be upgraded using GPS and drones.
Working Together for the Win
While in true bipartisan fashion concessions were made on both sides of the aisle, the bill still includes several important wins. The package co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program that since 1964 has used revenue from offshore oil and natural gas drilling to support conservation projects and develop outdoor recreation opportunities in every state. The LWCF has protected 2.37 million acres, including thousands of miles of trails, without using any taxpayer money and promotes the value of balanced use of public lands.
Protecting Colorado’s Public Lands
Right here in Colorado, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO-02) recently unveiled the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act. The CORE Act would protect approximately 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, establishing new wilderness areas and safeguarding existing outdoor recreation opportunities to boost the economy for future generations. Congressman Neguse explained, “In Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, we see first-hand that the health of our environment directly relates to the health of our citizens and the health of our economy. The CORE Act brings years of local collaborative input to the preservation of our landscapes, wildlife and recreational opportunities to ensure that Colorado’s public lands remain at the center of our economy and are preserved for generations to come.”
Ensuring Successful Outcomes
These recent public lands bills are a testament to the importance of collaboration. When we bring diverse groups of stakeholders to the table and work together for a common cause we radically improve our chances of a successful outcome. Peaks to People Water Fund is committed to working with fellow members of the community to achieve measurable outcomes.
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