RMNP now a wilderness; Salazar celebrates with dignitaries

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Americans turn to the things that matter in times of crisis, so it’s only fitting that during a deep recession, lawmakers ended 35 years of effort with a wilderness designation on 250,000 acres of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator who worked for that designation, offered those thoughts Thursday when he returned to his home state to celebrate. “We will refuel our spirits,” he said at a gathering of lawmakers, environmentalists, mayors, county commissioners, park rangers and residents. “We will refuel our strengths by celebrating the landscape of America.”

Throughout the country’s history during times of strife, including the Civil War and the Great Depression, American presidents and lawmakers have stepped forward to preserve land for future generations, Salazar said. The recent passage of a bill designating the national park backcountry as wilderness, and forever preserving it from development, mirrors those actions, he said.