The Colorado Wilderness Act began as the Citizen’s Wilderness Plan, developed by a group of concerned citizens and organizations, including Wild Connections, who inventoried federal lands throughout the state to identify pristine lands that met the criteria for Wilderness designation.
The proposal was modified after discussion and was presented to Congresswoman Diana DeGette. She agreed those lands required protection and introduced a bill to designate the areas as Wilderness, which is the strongest level of land protection in the country. The need for this protection has only grown as more people have moved or traveled to Colorado to enjoy the natural splendor here.
Congresswoman DeGette has introduced the Colorado Wilderness Act in every Congress since 1999. The new bill reflects the efforts of grassroots activists to update the inventory of Colorado’s lands with wilderness characteristics. It aims to protect lower-lying BLM lands that have historically been less of a focus than the higher, alpine-zone areas for which Colorado is more well-known.
The 2018 Colorado Wilderness Act designates 31 areas in Colorado as Wilderness and two areas as Potential Wilderness, totaling more than 740,000 acres! Many of the proposed areas are mid-elevation ecosystems that are underrepresented in currently designated Colorado Wilderness, and they provide valuable habitat for a staggering variety of plants and wildlife. These areas include stunning red cliffs, winding river-ways, and steep, rocky ridges.
The proposed wilderness areas in our region include Browns Canyon in the Upper Arkansas River Valley, Badger Creek, Table Mountain, McIntyre Hills, and Grape Creek in the Arkansas River Canyonlands, and Beaver Creek, located between Canon City and Colorado Springs.