Earth Day’s 41st birthday comes with a gift from Colorado, not wrapped in a bow, but a preservation bill soon to be introduced by Rep. Jared Polis. The reintroduction of the Eagle and Summit counting Wilderness Preservation Act, which proposes the preservation of a few of Colorado’s most beautiful landscapes, totaling 167,000 acres of public land, was announced at the State Capitol Friday, according to Polis.
If H.R. 6280 is passed, areas of the Eagle-Summit counties will be designated as national wilderness areas or special management areas, banning the use of motorized and mechanized vehicles in the preserved boundaries. So for all the ATV and four-wheeling junkies, there might not be room for your ride on these mountains any more.
“It’s for the benefit of Coloradan’s present and future in Eagle and Summit counties and the greater region,” Polis said at the Capitol on Friday. “It’s critical for our economic development of businesses for the recreation economy.”
Polis predicts the Eagle-Summit counties Wilderness Preservation Act will move quickly through Congress—because it will boost Colorado’s economy, catching the attention of many legislators who see the financial light at the end of the tunnel. Outdoor recreation rakes in $10 billion each year in Colorado and supports 107,000 jobs across the state, according to the Active Outdoor Recreation Economy.
Vail Town Council Member Kerry Donovan said she is proud to see Polis’ preservation proposal for wilderness areas that her grandfather once worked hard to protect and preserve. Donovan’s grandfather was one of the few who shaped and defined wilderness boundary lines decades ago and envisioned the preservation of full ecosystems around Colorado.
“It is the legacy that inspires me to be a part of this legislation,” Donovan said at the Capitol. “To add these proposed parcels completes a project started a lifetime ago.”
Other advocates, including outdoorsman and author Aaron Ralston, well-known nature photographer John Fielder and executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition Elise Jones, spoke at Polis’ announcement, expressing their praise for the congressman’s nature-loving and landscape-adoring heart.
“Wilderness protection makes people healthy, wealthy and happy from an economy that is sustained by clean air and water, parks and trails, cobalt blue skies and wilderness,” Fielder said. “I’m so grateful that Rep. Polis is a long-term thinker; that’s a hard commodity to find in Congress these days.”
For more information on the newly proposed wilderness areas in the Eagle-Summit Counties, please visit polis.house.gov/wilderness.