NWF hails reintroduction of legislation conserving Colorado's San Juan Mountains

Welcome news to hunters and anglers

02-15-2013 // Judith Kohler

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall’s reintroduction of a bill that would conserve about 61,000 acres in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado is welcome news to hunters and anglers, said John Gale of the National Wildlife Federation.

The San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act, reintroduced Thursday, would protect important fish and wildlife habitat, watersheds and hunting, fishing and recreation areas in San Miguel, Ouray and San Juan counties.

"Sportsmen have been strong supporters of this legislation from the start. The bill has wide, grassroots support and was developed from the ground up,’’ said Gale, NWF’s regional representative. "The National Wildlife Federation applauds Sen. Udall for his foresight in protecting one of the region’s most iconic places to hunt and fish."

The measure would expand the Lizard Head and Mount Sneffels wilderness areas and designate 21,620 acres as the Sheep Mountain Special Management Area where current recreational uses would continue.

In announcing the bill, Udall noted how important public lands are to Colorado’s economy.

"Colorado's scenic mountains and open spaces create jobs and form the very foundation of our thriving outdoor recreation economy. We need to support these job creators by protecting and preserving the public lands that are critical to their businesses and our quality of life in Colorado," Udall said.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet is an original co-sponsor of the bill.

Hunting, angling and other wildlife-related activities generate nearly $3 billion annually statewide. The benefits for the economy, wildlife and lifestyle that will result from safeguarding the area are important to NWF and its roughly 20,000 members in Colorado, Gale said.

"As someone who spends time hunting and fishing in the San Juans with my family," Gale added, "I commend Sen. Udall for standing up to preserve our Western heritage for future generations and an important, sustainable cornerstone of our economy."