Red Fox in the Hermosa Creek area
Business and conservation groups join diverse community in supporting bill that would preserve water quality, wildlife habitat and recreational areas
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rep. Scott Tipton (R, CO-3) introduced legislation today that would protect one of Colorado’s most revered landscapes – the Hermosa Creek watershed in the San Juan National Forest. The legislation was co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO). The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act would protect more than 100,000 acres of incredible wildlife habitat and ensure the future of the area’s wildly popular recreational opportunities.
“There’s a reason why my business is located in Durango." said Lynn Martens, owner of HeyRed Marketing Communications, LLC. “The natural landscapes and amazing recreational opportunities in the area make it a very desirable place to live and run my business." Over 100 business leaders in La Plata and San Juan Counties support the legislation; they are listed, along with more information on the watershed on www.hermosacreek.org.
The legislation would protect one of the most iconic destinations in southwest Colorado, the Hermosa Creek watershed. The bill would designate 38,000 acres as wilderness and 70,000 acres as a special management area. It would continue all current uses in the area – of particular interest to locals is that all the popular mountain bike trails in the watershed will remain open.
“This legislation is the result of a true community consensus, and honors the various needs of businesses, sportsmen and recreationists,” said Jeff Widen, an associate director at The Wilderness Society. “By reintroducing this legislation, Sens. Bennet and Udall and Rep. Tipton are respecting the wishes of local communitites, and protecting one of the best parts of Colorado. We thank and commend Sens. Bennet and Udall, and Rep. Tipton.”
The Hermosa Creek watershed offers breathtaking views, and contains some of Colorado’s more pristine old-growth ponderosa pine forests, which provide critical wildlife habitat for species such as the Canada lynx and native trout.
Community discussions by the Hermosa Creek Workgroup resulted in a proposal informed by a nearly three years of research and negotiations representing a broad array of local stakeholders and interests. The Act would preserve public access to the Hermosa Creek watershed for high quality outdoor recreation and other existing uses.
“Our community appreciates the support of Senators Bennet and Udall and Rep. Tipton to protect the largest roadless area in Colorado and in turn Hermosa Creek’s excellent water quality,” said Jimbo Buickerood, the public lands coordinator at the San Juan Citizens Alliance. “The legislation supports agricultural and domestic water supplies as well as the interests of anglers, hunters and other recreationists.”
The Wilderness Society and San Juan Citizens Alliance join the local community to ensure that Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act moves forward in Congress this year. The legislation did not pass in the 112th Congress -- the first Congress to fail to protect a single acre of wilderness since 1966.