The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE) is a bill that was introduced by Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and US Congressman Joe Neguse. It would ultimately protect up to 400,000 acres of public land.

The bill expands wilderness designations for more than 31,000 acres of wilderness, including some of the state’s most recognizable mountain scenes encompassing two fourteeners: Mount Sneffels and Wilson Peak in the San Juan Mountain Range in Southwest Colorado. I went on a hut trip in the area last winter and it was truly magnificent. Check out the San Juan Hut system for an awesome adventure.

Closer to home is the Continental Divide and Camp Hale piece of this legislation. Holy Cross, Ptarmigan and Eagles Nest Wilderness would tack on 20,000 acres collectively. In addition, Camp Hale where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War Two would be the first designated historic national landscape.

Recreationalists, ranchers, local governments, and business owners came together to push for protecting oil and gas development in the Thompson Divide area between the Roaring Fork and North Fork Valleys. The proposed amount of landscape to be protected totals 200,000 acres. The bill establishes the Greater Thompson Divide Fugitive Coal Mine Methane Use Pilot Program. It promotes the capture, beneficial use, mitigation, and sequestration of fugitive methane emissions. The goal is to reduce those emissions, improve air quality, and improve public safety, among other things.

Lastly, the Curecanti Recreation area which is on the way to Black Canyon of the Gunnison would now become a National Park. It is not the towering peaks of the San Juans or the jagged spires in the Gore Range part of Eagles Nest Wilderness, but has a unique beauty all its own.

It has passed in the House but sits in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for mark up. A mark up is the process of debate, amending and rewriting part of the legislation in a committee either in the house or senate. We will know more soon, perhaps by mid-February.

Tom Koehler

Sustainable Hiker

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