Colorado’s iconic mountains, forests and canyons are a critical part of what make this state great. They are why many of us call the state home and why millions more visit every year. Special landscapes like the Holy Cross Wilderness, Hermosa Creek, the Arkansas River and the San Juan Mountains matter to people around the world. These special places are the foundation of Colorado’s economy and the state’s unique way-of-life. They represent our state’s world-class recreation and our need to protect our clean water, air and wildlife habitat.
Across the state, local communities are working together to protect Colorado’s special places. Four campaigns are currently underway to designate new wilderness: Browns Canyon, Hermosa Creek, San Juan Mountains and the Central Mountains.
The Hermosa Creek watershed, just north of Durango, encompasses one of Colorado's largest, road-free forests, and contains some of the largest stands of old-growth ponderosa pine remaining in Colorado. Hermosa Creek's tributaries harbor genetically pure strains of native Colorado River cutthroat trout, and the area provides ideal habitat for rare Canada lynx, as well as sustains vast herds of deer and elk that draw thousands of hunters annually. Also renowned for its recreational opportunities, the Hermosa watershed offers some of the country’s best mountain biking, fishing and hunting, horsepacking, and skiing.
The Wilderness Society has worked with local communities and interest groups for four years to develop a proposal to protect the watershed. This forms the basis for legislation, including wilderness, recently introduced in Congress by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representative Scott Tipton (R-CO3).
Browns Canyon of the Arkansas River, located 2.5 hours south of Denver, has a stunning combination of natural beauty and recreational opportunities that define Colorado’s outdoor legacy. Browns Canyon is the most popular destination in the country for whitewater rafting– bringing in more than $23 million a year to the Upper Arkansas Valley economy. Protecting Browns Canyon as a National Monument is crucial to the economic health of river outfitters, local businesses and the surrounding communities.
Senator Mark Udall has proposed a new national monument to ensure that the outdoor recreation opportunities remain available for future generations of whitewater rafters, sportsmen and explorers. It would also make sure that no new roads that would damage the area’s watershed or wildlife habitat would be built. Browns Canyon is a national treasure which deserves permanent protection as a national monument to ensure the outdoor legacy, recreational opportunities and the local economic growth continue for the future.
San Juan Mountains
The San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado offer some of the State’s finest scenery and recreation. From 14,000 foot peaks to deep river canyons, these mountains are home to a wide diversity of wildlife species, the source of municipal water for the towns of Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray, and Silverton, and offer scenery with spectacular snow-clad peaks and deep forests. Some of the very best higher elevation backpacking, climbing, hunting and fishing in the State is contained in the region, all of which is easily accessible from local towns. Backcountry ski opportunities and top-quality mountain bike trails are also available. Legislation sponsored by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) would expand two existing wilderness areas and protect other important areas forever.
Among the most recognizable landscapes in the state, Colorado’s Central Mountains encompass many of our most cherished mountains, forests and canyons. Iconic landscapes like the Maroon Bells, Holy Cross and Eagles Nest wilderness areas lie at the heart of the region and will be expanded by new efforts launched last year by Senator Udall and Representative Polis. The proposals would protect 32 areas in Eagle, Summit and Pitkin counties, expanding existing wilderness while ensuring recreational opportunities. Please support efforts to ensure the future of Colorado’s Central Mountains. To help make Colorado’s Central Mountains Matter please visit www.whiteriverwild.org
where you can write to Senator Udall and Congressman Polis and support their efforts to protect our mountains, forests and canyons.
How You Can Help
Each of the above proposals were developed by our congressional champions and local communities in a collaborative manner to ensure the future of these special places, but we need your help!
Please tell Senators Udall and Bennet, and Congressmen Tipton, Polis, and Lamborn that protecting these landscapes is what we want!