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Udall Champions Bill to Protect Job-Creating Public Lands, Safeguard Colorado's Special Way of Life

Proposal Safeguards Colorado's Parks, Open Spaces, Scenic Areas from Shortsighted Sales, Efforts to Undermine Recreation Economy

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mark Udall, chairman of the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee, urged his colleagues today to support legislation to make it more difficult for shortsighted lawmakers to sell off our nation's public lands to pay the government's bills. Udall said this common-sense proposal would require a 60-vote supermajority for the U.S. Senate to sell any of our nation's treasured public lands, including Western lands that support local economies and activities like hiking, rafting, hunting, angling or mountain biking.

The bill would counter a proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives' recently passed Ryan Budget that supports selling "unneeded acreage" of federal land on the open market.

"Our public lands not only support Colorado's special way of life, but they also are the reason why so many innovative and job-creating industries are located in the Centennial State. Selling our public lands is a shortsighted strategy that ultimately undermines local communities, economies and places that make Colorado such a great place to live, work and raise a family," Udall said. "We need to get our fiscal house in order, but the House Budget would not keep faith with the bipartisan and broadly supported conservation tradition that dates back to President Theodore Roosevelt and the earliest days of the American West."

Colorado sportsmen's organizations lauded the legislation and urged Congress to swiftly take up this common-sense proposal.

"Selling off our federal public lands makes as much economic sense as killing the goose that lays golden eggs. Clear Creek County is proud that 74 percent of our land is public and provides a robust recreational economy by attracting tens of thousands of hunters, anglers, hikers, river rafters, mountain bikers, backpackers, campers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts that seek out my community year-round for vacations, tours, exercise and relaxation in true western fashion," said sportsman and Clear Creek County Commissioner Tim Mauck. "The Ryan plan demonstrates little knowledge of the economics of our Western landscapes and effectively puts jobs at risk."

"Public lands shape the American identity, support local economies and perpetuate our sporting heritage. They should not be sold," said Steve Kandell, director of Trout Unlimited's Sportsmen's Conservation Project.

"Our public lands are the heart and soul of Colorado. These mountains, waters and rangelands define our Western heritage and nourish the robust populations of fish and wildlife that generate $3 billion for our state and the rural economies that depend on hunters and anglers," said John Gale, government affairs director for Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. "We have an obligation to future generations to pass down a rich outdoor legacy on public lands and I tip my hat to Senator Udall for his leadership and defense of our most treasured places."

"The National Wildlife Federation and its members thank Senator Udall for co-sponsoring a measure that would require a supermajority of senators to agree before taking up legislation disposing of the federal lands," said Ann J. Morgan, regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. "These lands, which have come under constant attack by elected officials out of touch with the American people, are some of our best wildlife habitat, watersheds and recreation areas and are critical to our Western way of life."

Udall has been a strong opponent to the sale of public lands as part of any budget deal. He also has been a vocal advocate for Colorado's public lands and the jobs they create and has fought for legislation to expand recreational opportunities for hunters and anglers.

By: Alex McCarthy
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