Standing up for the CORE values

To the editor,

Tracy Chamberlin’s excellent article “Going Public – Support for public lands, voiced in new polls, comes to life in legislation” (Telegraph, Feb. 7) captures just how important protecting our public lands is to the public, and especially to those of us who live in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West. It is encouraging to see that our lawmakers are taking these voices to heart and championing legislation that would permanently protect many of our most cherished lands.

The Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act, which was recently introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse, is among the most broadly supported and significant efforts to protect and preserve Colorado public lands in a generation. As the owner of Mountain Trip, a mountain guiding service in Telluride, I am among the hundreds of Southwest Colorado business owners who ardently support passage of this bill. I’ve often of the wildest places on the planet. I am luckier still, that many of these special wild places are right in my Colorado back yard. I have been able to experience – and help others to experience – many of the spectacular places that the CORE Act will permanently protect. I am also keenly aware that this legislation could limit my ability to partake in some of my personal passions, such as riding dirt bikes on high country trails, but for the sake of my children and their future generations, I view that limitation as relatively minor when compared to the said that I am the luckiest person on the planet to have chosen a career as a mountain guide exploring some  prospective rewards of protecting these wild spaces.

In Southwest Colorado alone, the CORE Act will protect 61,000 acres of land in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, including two fourteeners, Mount Sneffels and Wilson Peak, that are popular with climbers from around the world. The bill adds thousands of acres to the Lizard Head Wilderness Area and designates nearly 8,900 acres surrounding McKenna Peak as a new wilderness area in San Miguel County. Between the towns of Ophir, where my family and I reside, and Silverton, the bill creates the 21,633-acre Sheep Mountain Special Management Area, and above Telluride it establishes the 792-acre Liberty Bell East Special Management Area. The Colorado Recreation & Economy Act is Colorado’s passport to a vibrant, ecologically and economically sustainable future in Southwest Colorado and throughout our state. I urge Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton to get onboard with the vast majority of Coloradans and support this vital legislation.

– Todd Rutledge, Ophir