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Udall Statement on President Obama’s Signing of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act

Posted: Monday, March 30, 2009

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement after President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. The legislation includes several Udall-authored provisions important to Colorado, including wilderness for Rocky Mountain National Park, steps to protect the Front Range Mountain Backdrop, and authority to facilitate the sale of land for the National Trails System. The bill represents 10 years of Udall's work.

"Today marks the end of a long, hard effort to preserve our state's natural heritage and critical water supplies - and I couldn't be happier that President Obama has signed this bill into law.

"So many Coloradans worked together to bring these provisions to the table. This new law is a testament to their spirit of cooperation, and their ability to bridge the partisan divide. Thanks to them, we're finally going to make good on long-discussed efforts to preserve the Front Range Mountain Backdrop, resolve a Nixon-era promise for wilderness at Rocky Mountain National Park, and take an important step toward protecting water supplies for the Arkansas Valley.

"At the end of the day, this effort was about ensuring that future generations of Americans will be able to experience the beauty of Western landscapes. I was proud to work on it in the House for many years - and in the Senate this year. And as a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I look forward to continuing to work on natural resources issues important to Coloradans for years to come."

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act combines more than 150 public-lands measures, including Colorado-specific provisions, such as:

• The Arkansas Valley Conduit, which will help protect the water supply for the Arkansas River Valley's communities and its productive agricultural lands by advancing the construction of the long-planned Arkansas Valley Conduit.

• Colorado Northern Front Range Study, which will help Coloradans protect the scenic Front Range mountain backdrop in the northern Denver-metro area and the region just west of Rocky Flats. Preserving these vistas is important to Colorado's economy and its communities. The bill directs the U.S. Forest Service to study the ownership patterns of the lands comprising the Front Range mountain backdrop, identify areas that are open and may be at risk of development, and recommend to Congress how these lands might be protected and how the federal government could help local communities and residents to achieve that goal. The bill does not interfere with the power of local authorities regarding land use planning or infringe on private property rights.

• The National Trails System Willing Seller Authority, which will allow people who want to sell land for inclusion in certain units of the National Trails System to do so. Current law prohibits people who own land associated with several units of the trail system from selling those lands to the federal government for inclusion in those units. This bill would allow such sales to happen.

• The Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness, which will designate nearly 250,000 acres of Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness. The provision will guarantee the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park will be managed so that future generations will experience the park as we know it today. The legislation will also allow the National Park Service to continue its important efforts to battle the devastating bark beetle infestation and to engage in necessary wildfire mitigation efforts and emergency response actions.

Please contact Tara Trujillo at (202) 224-5941.

By: Tara Trujillo at (202) 224-5941
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