​New Bill Aims to Protect Over 400,000 Acres of Colorado Public Land

Some of Colorado’s most iconic landscapes are at the center of a new bill making its way through Congress. Introduced by Colorado congressmen Joe Neguse and Michael Bennet, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE Act) is an ambitious public lands package that would protect over 400,000 acres of public lands in Colorado, including some exceptional mountain peaks and traverses such as the Ten Mile Traverse near Breckenridge. The House Natural Resources Committee just voted 23-15 in favor of the CORE Act, and it will move forward to the full House for a vote.

Ten Mile Traverse, CO | Photo courtesy of © Heather Distad

The stakeholder-driven CORE Act balances both recreational and conservation interests, and includes land designation protections ranging from Wilderness, to National Recreation Area, to a brand-new National Historic Landscape. This diverse set of landscape designations provides a spectrum of recreation opportunities, ranging from deep backcountry to accessible roadside, while also preserving critical wildlife habitat and ensuring watershed integrity. The needs of climbers, mountain bikers, hunters, farmers, and wildlife are all integrated into the legislation.

The CORE Act would also add a varied set of protective designations to climbing areas across Colorado, from roadside clip-ups in the Camp Hale area to alpine climbing in the Ten Mile and the San Juan ranges.

This public lands package combines three previously introduced bills aiming to protect the San Juan Mountains, the Thompson divide, the Continental divide, the proposed Curecanti National Recreation Area (near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park), and historic Camp Hale, a training ground for the Army’s WWII-era 10th Mountain Division.

A new National Historic Landscape designation would set a new precedent for landscape-wide protection based on historical importance. In the case of Camp Hale, many of the climbing, skiing, and mountaineering techniques were developed there for wartime use, helping to define modern American climbing as we know it.

Access Fund has been engaged with the individual bills that make up the CORE Act for years, helping to vet the land designation boundaries, providing letters of support, and participating in public relations events. Access Fund has established a strong relationship with Congressman Neguse, and is actively working with his office to optimize the bill for the climbing community. We will continue to fine tune the bill over the coming months to ensure that it includes robust protections for iconic landscapes and climbing access.