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850,000 Acres & 34 Wilderness Area Designations = No Access, No Jobs, No Recreation for Coloradans

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 11, 2010 -

"Off Limits" signs = Land Designated Wilderness Area Under H.R. 4289
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Map Key:
Off limits sign

-- “Off Limits” signs = Land Designated Wilderness Area Under H.R. 4289 (Rep. DeGette)
-- Numbers 1-7 and corresponding colors distinguish CO Congressional Districts
-- CO Congressional District 1, Rep. Dianna DeGette–NOT affected by H.R. 4289
-- CO Congressional Districts 2,3,5, Reps. Polis, Salazar, and Lamborn–AFFECTED by H.R. 4289

Today, the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands will hold a hearing on H.R. 4289, the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2009. The bill will lock up 850,000 acres of land in Colorado from future recreation, public access and energy job development by designating 34 separate locations as Wilderness Area.

Get the Facts

  • Under H.R. 4289, 850,000 acres of land would instantly become off limits. Conveniently, none of this land is located in the district of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Diane DeGette (CO-01).
  • Rep. DeGette’s chief of staff recently admitted, "Many of the lands are endangered by drilling”—recognition that these are energy rich lands that could be used to create more jobs for Coloradans and help reduce our dependency on foreign energy.
  • Currently the oil and natural gas industry supports 190,408 jobs in Colorado, adding $24.1 billion to the state’s economy. Some of these jobs and future high paying jobs in the oil and gas industry will be in jeopardy with nearly a million acres of new Colorado Wilderness Area designations.
  • The DOI and Forest Service has not done extensive analysis of all the areas that are proposed to be designated as Wilderness but it’s possible that less than 10% of it meets Wilderness criteria outlined in the Wilderness Act of 1964.
  • The bill would have massive ramifications on water rights in the state of Colorado, which in turn would have a devastating impact on agriculture and ranching in the state.
  • Roads, trails and other access points for mountain biking, off highway vehicles and other recreational opportunities will be severely affected if not eliminated all together.
  • Nearly 108 million acres of federal land in the United States is already designated as Wilderness Area that the government can’t properly maintain. Yet the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress continue to look for new opportunities to acquire even more government land.
  • Recently obtained internal Department of Interior documents show Secretary Salazar already has plans to lock up 13 million acres of western land by means of the Antiquities Act, which only requires an executive order by the president.
  • Congressional Democrats also have intention to usurp even more land for Wilderness designation: H.R. 980, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, would add 24 million acres as Wilderness and H.R. 1925, the Red Rock Wilderness Act, would force one-fifth of the entire State of Utah into Wilderness Area. Ironically the sponsors of both pieces of legislation live thousands of miles away from the western lands and economies that the bills will ultimately harm.

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Print version of this document

Contact: Jill Strait or Spencer Pederson (202) 226-2311

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