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Washington Goes 'Wild' on the Western Slope

June 23, 2008

Denver, CO - More wilderness for Colorado's Western Slope is included in a handful of bills making their way through Congress this summer. A push to add new protections to existing federal land includes tens of thousands of acres in Western Colorado, in a measure sponsored by the Salazar brothers.

The legislation would create the "Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and Wilderness" in the canyonlands near Grand Junction. Tony Prendergast of the Western Colorado Congress says, with more federal land in the West being industrialized, protecting Colorado's remaining wild places is critical.

"Now, it is more important than ever to provide a higher standard of stewardship and protection for our shrinking wild lands. That wild, pristine legacy - that I, as a native Coloradoan, just totally relate to - is my state, my countryside. To me, it is Colorado."

Grand Junction resident Joan Woodward agrees. She says she fell in love with the area on her first hike there, and she believes even Front Range dwellers have a stake in protecting it.

"It's critical for us to preserve places we may never see, so the treasures there remain, both for the wildlife and for future generations."

Earlier this year, President Bush signed a bill giving new protections to wilderness in Washington State. More information about the Dominguez-Escalante proposal is available online at salazar.senate.gov/.

Eric Mack/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - CO