Move San Juan Wilderness bill across finish line

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For Congress, business time will begin Monday when the lame duck session will convene. Though there is arguably more to do than time – or political will – allows, there is an opportunity now to make the last days of the 111th Congress very significant ones for wilderness in Southwest Colorado.

Since Rep. John Salazar introduced the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act last November, it has been slowly making its way along the requisite tour through committees and subcommittees in both chambers. The measure is currently awaiting action in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where Sen. Mark Udall and his colleagues can and should seize the chance to move the measure along, and catalyze its final passage. Doing so would be a deserved acknowledgement of the widespread – near universal, really – support the bill enjoys.

This is no small feat when wilderness is involved. The measure would protect 61,600 acres of pristine Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land in San Miguel, San Juan and Ouray counties. All three counties support the measure, as do citizens across the region. The measure reflects the values shared by most in Southwest Colorado.