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Mark's Newsletter Update: Colorado's wilderness and recreation jobs

Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
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Dear Fellow Coloradan,

VIDEO: Protecting our Outdoor Heritage

VIDEO: Protecting our Outdoor Heritage

I kicked 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. Watch video.

Central Mountain Maps and Comment Form

Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River Maps and Comment Form

The Arkansas River Canyon proposal would protect some of our best-loved river rafting spots along the iconic Arkansas River between Salida and Buena Vista by designating it as a national monument and the adjacent Browns Canyon as wilderness. The official designation would literally put the region on the map, drawing more visitors to the area’s world-class outdoor recreation opportunities and supporting the local tourism economy. Submit comments.

Central Mountain Maps and Comment Form

Central Mountain Maps and Comment Form

The Central Mountains proposal could encompass as many as 32 areas in Eagle, Pitkin and Summit counties, expanding existing wilderness areas in the region, including Holy Cross, Eagles Nest and the Maroon Bells. Legislation could help promote the region as a world-class destination for outdoor recreation. Submit comments.

If you close your eyes and think the word “Colorado,” what comes to mind?

For me it’s towering white-capped mountains and the burning sensation in your lungs when climbing that final 100 yards to the top of a 14,000-foot mountain. For others, it might be finding the perfect spot to catch cutthroat trout or making the first tracks on a powder day.

I would hazard a guess that the first thought for many of you involved the immense natural beauty of our state and the quality of life it provides. But preserving our natural lands is about more than just protecting our quality of life – it’s about protecting our livelihood. Wilderness is one of Colorado’s great economic engines.

Activities such as hiking, skiing, paddling and fishing contribute more than $10 billion annually to our economy, supporting some 100,000 Colorado jobs and generating $500 million in state tax revenue. Wilderness ensures that skiers and hikers have beautiful vistas, anglers have clean streams in which to fish, and hunters have healthy big-game herds. These resources attract visitors from all over the nation and world.

That's why I'm proud to launch a collaborative, community-driven process – in partnership with Senator Bennet and affected members of the House of Representatives – that I hope will ultimately allow Colorado to create legislation for wilderness and national monument designations in two areas – the Central Mountains and Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River.

I'm asking Coloradans in those communities what they would like to see from a wilderness proposal. Click here to learn about my proposals, study the maps and weigh in with your comments.

My goal is to build on work that has been done previously by other members of the Colorado delegation and develop a plan that a majority of the community agrees will support their interests and their local economies. I am proud to use my leadership position on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee to take this work to the next level. In order to facilitate the conversation with these communities, I've developed draft maps of possible wilderness boundaries, which will give us a firm base to compare notes and ideas.

With our population expected to double by 2050, we need to be proactive so that future generations can experience the beauty, clean water and air, and wildlife that we have today. I'm committed to ensuring that Coloradans have a wide variety of options to access public lands for recreation, including places to bike, ski and snowmobile – as well as backcountry trails and wide-open pristine lands that will be preserved for generations. I'm proud of my successful past work to designate wilderness at James Peak and in Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as the proposed San Juan Mountains Wilderness. I look forward to this process and encourage all Coloradans to join in the conversation.


Warm regards,

Mark Udall

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