Testimony of Jeff Widen before House Natural Resources Subcommittee for National Parks, Forests and Public Lands

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Testimony presented by Jeff Widen to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. The hearing occurred on January 21st, 2010. Jeff Widen is Conservation Designations Associate Director at The Wilderness Society. Highlights and key points of the testimony include...

  • The San Juan Mountains offer some of the best ice climbing in the United States.
  • There is no formal opposition to the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act as of this date.
  • Lizard Head, in the Wilderness of the same name, is considered one of the most difficult technical summits in the Rocky Mountains.
  • The unanimous endorsement of the San Juan Mountains Wilderness bill from the San Juan County Commission, included the support of a long-time hard rock mining advocate, and a dedicated off-road vehicle supporter.
  • San Juan Commissioner Ernie Kohlman, at the public meeting on the bill, said – “I support mining. I hope mining comes back to San Juan County. But for now, we have recreation and tourism, and I think we need to support this thing.”
  • The San Miguel River, with it’s headwaters in the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness, is one of the best unknown whitewater boating runs in the State.
  • This legislation will – for the first time – put ALL of Mt Sneffels in the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness – the current wilderness boundary only includes the western half of the peak.
  • The Colorado Snowmobile Association told Congressman Salazar’s office that he did a good job putting the San Juan bill together.
  • Supporters of the San Juan Mountains Wilderness bill include the Hard Rock 100 Footrace, Telluride Helitrax heli-skiing, the San Miguel County Sheriff, a local off-road vehicle columnist, and the mountain biking community in Telluride.
  • McKenna Peak is actually not the main topographic feature in the proposed McKenna Peak Wilderness – a spectacular band of high cliffs is taller and much more prominent.
  • The peaks making up the heart of the proposed Sheep Mountain Special Management Area - Vermillion, Golden Horn, Pilot Knob, and Sheep Mountain – are some of the most accessible and enjoyable peak-bagging objectives in the San Juans.