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Udall, Salazar to Introduce Wilderness for Rocky Mountain National Park

Location: Washington, DC


Washington, DC - Congressman Mark Udall (D-Eldorado Springs) and U.S. Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) announced today that they are introducing legislation which would designate nearly 250,000-acres within Rocky Mountain National Park—including Longs Peak—as wilderness. The areas included in the bill are based on the recommendations prepared over 30 years ago by the Nixon administration. Udall has sponsored similar legislation every Congress since 1999.

Over the last month, the National Park Service has held public meetings in Grand Lake and Estes Park to gauge public support for the proposal. Following the town meetings, the town councils of both towns expressed support for wilderness designation for lands inside the Park.

"Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the nation's most visited parks and possesses some of the most pristine and striking alpine ecosystems and natural landscapes in the continental United States. It contains high altitude lakes, herds of bighorn sheep and elk, glacial cirques and snow fields, broad expanses of alpine tundra, old-growth forests and thundering rivers. It is essential that we act to preserve this park so that future generations can enjoy some of the things that now make Colorado such a special place to work, live and play," said Udall, whose grandfather was one of the first outfitters in the Park.

"Colorado is blessed with some of the world's most beautiful natural landscapes - Rocky Mountain National Park is no exception," said Salazar. "Areas in the park deserve this designation to ensure their unspoiled ecology is kept intact and flourishes so that visitors from across the world, nation and Colorado can continue to be awed by their grandeur and delicacy."

The exact acreage in the legislation is pending while Udall and Salazar consider Grand Lake's request for map adjustments to facilitate activities to reduce and manage forest fire risks and to accommodate some access issues.

The Udall-Salazar proposal would not create a new federal reserved water right; instead, it includes a finding that the Park's existing federal reserved water rights, as decided by the Colorado courts, are sufficient. Certain lands in the Park, including Trail Ridge Road and other roads used for motorized travel, water storage and conveyance structures, buildings, developed areas of the Park, and private inholdings, would not be affected by the bill.

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