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Bill Would Protect Backcountry in CO’s ‘Crown Jewel’

November 13, 2007

Denver, CO / Washington, DC – It's the "crown jewel" of Colorado's public lands, and even royalty needs protection. A bill to permanently protect a quarter-million acres of backcountry in Rocky Mountain National Park reaches a U.S. House subcommittee this week.

Marcia Argust, with the Campaign for America's Wilderness says the park has started to feel pressure from population growth on the Front Range.

"There's increased pressures for recreation, for mountain biking trails within a park, and the park has felt some of that in recent years."

HR 2334 is cosponsored by Colorado Democrat Mark Udall and Republican Marilyn Musgrave. Argust says the federal wilderness designation wouldn't affect the park's popular nonmotorized recreation activities, which include horseback riding, hiking, fishing, climbing and skiing.

"What we're trying to do is protect the area so the resources are sustained for generations to come."

Argust adds a broad coalition of conservation, business and recreation groups supports the bill, but disagreements over a provision involving a ditch that flows through the park could derail the entire effort. The bill has its House Public Lands Subcommittee hearing this week, along with a handful of other wilderness-related legislation.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO