A key recreation area in western Colorado is one step closer to being preserved for future generations.
On Thursday, lawmakers from Colorado introduced legislation in the U.S. House and Senate to create the Hermosa Creek Watershed protection area.
Jeff Widen, conservation designations associate director of The Wilderness Society, says Hermosa Creek is one of the top mountain biking spots in the world, but it also is a key part of Durango’s water supply.
“What we’ve really accomplished in this legislation is a sense of balance,” he says. “Balance between different uses, balance between uses that oftentimes might conflict like wilderness protection and motorized recreation.”
The protections will include three parts: multiple uses including limited development to the north, mountain biking and motorized trails to the south and east with no new roads, and a wilderness on the west side of the creek.
Widen says the bill is also a great example of bi-partisan political support.
Democrats Michael Bennett and Mark Udall introduced it in the Senate, while Republican Scott Tipton did the same in the House.
And Widen says the time may be ripe for Congress to begin considering protective legislation again, especially given the level of support the Hermosa Creek plan has in the region.
“The community really did come together on this,” he says. “There’s no formal opposition to the Hermosa Creek proposal.”
He says one reason is that the proposal balances the uses on public lands between resource development, public use and wilderness.