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The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act Gains Momentum with Hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee

April 2, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C.— Today, the House Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act, major legislation from Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Joe Neguse to conserve about 400,000 acres of public lands across the state of Colorado.

The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, or the CORE Act, has gained broad support among local stakeholders, including the counties of Eagle, Summit, San Juan, Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison and Pitkin, the city of Glenwood Springs and the towns of Carbondale, Ridgway, Crested Butte, Ophir, Telluride and Basalt. In addition, the CORE Act, is widely supported by Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry, including the Outdoor Industry Association, Vail Resorts, North Face, Patagonia and Icelantic Skis.

“I’m proud that the CORE Act was crafted by Coloradans over a decade of collaboration. This bill comes with input from our local elected officials, outdoor recreation businesses, conservation groups, ranchers and sportsman.” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Public lands are who we are as Coloradans, they are rooted at the foundation of our state’s economy, they inspire our commitment to sustainability and define our state’s character and I’m grateful to be able to work with community members from across our great state on this bill to preserve and invest in Colorado’s precious public lands.”

“The name of the bill says it all: We don’t have to choose between protecting public lands and boosting the economy. Coloradans reject that idea. We believe protecting the places we love drives economic growth,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “Congressman Neguse and I are grateful to all of the Coloradans who developed the CORE Act over the last ten years and flew to DC to show support at this hearing. We’ll do everything we can to pass the CORE Act and have it signed into law.”

“I am proud today to support the CORE Act which will protect some of the most beloved public lands in Colorado for their unsurpassed recreation, scenery, wildlife, and other unique values,” said Dan Gibbs Executive Director Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “The legislation strikes the right balance by protecting key public lands from development while preserving existing uses. In Colorado, we have a long and rich tradition of public lands protection and I urge the Committee to quickly move the CORE Act forward.” 

Video of Neguse’s testimony at today’s hearing can be viewed here.

B-roll and other media resources can be found here.

Resources—including bill text, a fact sheet, frequently asked questions, letters of support, and more—are available at www.bennet.senate.gov/COREAct

Support for the CORE Act

“Eagle County strongly supports the CORE Act. This act honors the legacy of the Tenth Mountain Division and our heritage of skiing, it protects critical wildlife habitat, and it strengthens both the heart and economy of Eagle County and these mountains. We thank Senator Bennet for his years-long advocacy of our cherished public lands, and hope fellow members of Congress will join him and Representative Neguse in support of this bill.” - Kathy Chandler-Henry, Eagle County Commissioner

“The CORE Act has broad support in Pitkin County because it is about maintaining and respecting local control of our natural resources, and it’s about looking forward on behalf of all Coloradans whether they are cyclists, hunters, campers, farmers, ranchers, or part of our booming outdoor recreation economy. The Thompson Divide area under consideration is mostly within Pitkin County and we have been in support of protected status for over a decade. Creation of The Camp Hale National Historic Landscape makes me especially proud. My father, Sergeant Harry Poschman was with Mountain Training Group at Camp Hale for the 10th Mountain Division during WWII. The CORE Act ensures that the hallowed grounds around Camp Hale will be revered in perpetuity for our veterans, and for Coloradans who can all take pride in being heirs to the mountain troops who fathered our modern skiing, conservation and outdoor recreation culture. Before we see the last of the 10th Mountain Division ski troopers pass-on in the next few years, The US Senate and Congress have a golden opportunity to recognize and honor the 10th Mountain Division through preservation of this landscape. The CORE Act demonstrates that Americans, and especially Coloradans, are proud, patriotic and respectful of the important military achievements of the 10th Mountain Division.” - Greg Poschman, Chair of the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners

“These public lands bill are a culmination of years of local collaborative input. The areas protected are a combination of cherished landscapes, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities and we have a duty to preserve them for future generations. We appreciate Senator Bennet's active role in working with our communities to build these public lands bills and assemble the new CORE Act with Congressman Neguse. I hope that our other representatives in Washington will support the economic and environmental benefits of these bill and add their names to this truly Colorado bill." - Hilary Cooper, San Miguel County Commissioner

“We have long waited for and actively pursued opportunities to protect public lands in numerous areas throughout Gunnison County. These public lands have been the backbone of our communities livelihoods and when well managed and sensibly protected, they will be an enduring wellspring of opportunity into the future. From the largest living organism in Colorado, the Kebler Pass Aspen Grove, to the nation’s largest kokanee salmon fishery anchored by Blue Mesa Reservoir we are happy to see these areas have the opportunity for protections that match our communities values and will continue to be a treasure for locals and visitors alike well into the future. Gunnison County applauds introduction the CORE Act and this package of conservation efforts.” - Jonathan D. Houck, Gunnison County Commissioner

"Protecting our winter landscapes is critical to Colorado's growing outdoor recreation economy. In particular, recognizing and preserving the incredible skiing history and legacy at the Camp Hale National Historic Landscape is especially important. Our industry appreciates the leadership of Sen. Bennet and Rep. Neguse keeping our public lands accessible and wild." - Annelise Loevlie, CEO of Icelantic Skis

“I am a rancher who has relied on the high-quality summer grazing in the Thompson Divide for 45 years. Protecting these public lands is critical not only to me and my fellow ranchers but to the entire community. Recreation and hunting are also vitally important to our local economy. There are just some areas where the costs to the community outweigh the potential benefits of drilling. The Thompson Divide is one of those places. I thank Senator Bennet for his continued leadership to get this bill passed in Congress eliminating the threat of oil and gas drilling in the Thompson Divide thereby safeguarding the continued prosperity of our community.” - Bill Fales, a local rancher in the Thompson Divide area

“I'm wearing two hats today, voicing the interests and support of outdoor recreation users and as a TDC Board member, the broad-based coalition formed over 10 years ago to permanently protect the Thompson Divide from oil and gas development. Working with mountain bike advocates around the state, I can appreciate that the CORE Act has been crafted to respect the particular needs and desires of all mountain bikers living and visiting Colorado. It’s been said that the Thompson Divide Coalition is comprised of strange bedfellows. It isn’t every day you see mountain bikers and ranchers at the same table advocating for the same thing. But here we are, testifying to the importance of Colorado's diverse economy and the need to protect these public lands.”  - Mike Pritchard, Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association Executive Director

“Our local economy depends on outdoor recreation and protected lands. That’s why we’ve supported protecting the San Juan Mountains for a decade, and I am happy to be in Washington, DC advocating for the mountains that we love by supporting the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.” - San Juan County Commissioner Scott Fetchenhier

“Ridgway is ideally situated at the foot of the San Juans, in close proximity to all types of outdoor recreation, and which our public lands obviously offer in abundance. As a result, those uses are playing a rapidly increasing role in our economic development strategies. That's why we’ve long supported the protection of our public lands, and thank Senator Bennet and Representative Neguse for sponsoring the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.” - John Clark, Mayor of Ridgway

“Never before have I seen an issue so galvanizing for a community. Protecting our backyard, our watershed and for some their livelihood, has built an uncommonly broad coalition of land stewards. We welcome and appreciate Senator Bennet’s efforts to protect Thompson Divide not only for us but for future generations.” - Dan Richardson, Mayor of Carbondale

“As a fifth generation resident of the Crystal River Valley I know that the Thompson Divide area is a place that is too special to drill for oil and gas. Coal mining was once the lifeblood of our community, and we've worked hard to emerge from the boom and bust cycle of extractive industries to build a sustainable economy based on agriculture, tourism, and outdoor recreation. Our collective efforts and unified voice has repeatedly come together to protect this special landscape and we thank Senator Bennet for his decade-long dedication to ensure this landscape is protected for future generations of ranchers, sportsmen, and recreational users.” - Stacey Bernot, Former Mayor of Carbondale

“The CORE Act has something for everyone and all Coloradans stand to benefit. We are thankful for the leadership from Senator Bennet and Representative Neguse in writing the next chapter of Colorado’s proud history of supporting wilderness and public lands, and to Rep. Neguse for his leadership in securing today’s hearing on the bill. We urge Senator Cory Gardner and Representative Scott Tipton to heed the requests of their constituents and work toward passage of the bill to protect our public lands and support Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy.” - Jim Ramey, Colorado State Director of The Wilderness Society

“We are grateful to see the House take up the CORE Act today, and thank Rep. Neguse and Sen. Bennet for their work. Protecting wilderness in Colorado has until now been a bipartisan effort, and Coloradans are waiting for Senator Gardner and Rep. Tipton to support this important legislation.” - Kelly Nordini, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado