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Ranchers, Outdoor Rec Industry, Veterans Hail CORE Passage in U.S. House

The CORE Act would designate 31,725 acres of wilderness, including the iconic Mt. Sneffels in the northern San Juan Mountains. (Ken Lund/Flickr)
The CORE Act would designate 31,725 acres of wilderness, including the iconic Mt. Sneffels in the northern San Juan Mountains. (Ken Lund/Flickr)
November 1, 2019

LEADVILLE, Colo. – Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy, or CORE, Act. If the measure clears the Senate, CORE would safeguard roughly 400,000 acres of public lands in Colorado.

Bradley Noone, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, supports CORE's goal of protecting important watersheds along the Eagle and Roaring Fork rivers, along with the National Historic Landscape designation of Camp Hale.

"Camp Hale is extremely important to protect, because much of the nation's – and specifically Colorado's – ski industry stemmed from World War II veterans who were trained at Camp Hale," says Noone.

The legislation was introduced in January, a result of decades of work between ranchers, sportsmen, small businesses, veterans, local officials, and outdoor recreation, water and energy groups.

Sen. Cory Gardner voiced concerns after CORE was passed without support from fellow Republican, Rep. Scott Tipton – whose 3rd district would be affected. Gardner also said he would not block the measure when it arrives in the Senate.

Two-thirds of Western Colorado voters support the CORE Act, according to a recent survey.

Justin Cross, northern Colorado regional director with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, believes CORE would boost the state's outdoor recreation economy, which generated $62 billion and a half-million jobs in 2017.

Cross says the shared-use model for public lands means making room for recreation, and notes 85% of federal lands are already open for agriculture and extraction.

"So, we're really talking about already a really small fraction of public lands being dedicated to recreational users,” says Cross. “So, I think it's pretty reasonable that we slowly expand that, to have a better balance."

A 2018 poll found that 96% of Coloradans see the outdoor recreation industry as important to the state's economic future.

The CORE Act would also protect the Thompson Divide from future oil and gas development, and add recreational opportunities in the White River and San Juan National Forests.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO