Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Act passes House " headed to President | SkyHiNews.com

Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Act passes House " headed to President

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

An omnibus lands bill carrying Rocky Mountain National Park wilderness legislation passed the U.S. House on Thursday, and is headed to the President.

In the Act that contains more than 150 public lands measures, four of which concern lands in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain National Park portion of the bill designates nearly 250,000 acres of Rocky Mountain National Park land as wilderness.

The provision guarantees that the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park will continue to be managed as it has since its inception, according to statements released Thursday by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Eldorado Springs).

The legislation allows the National Park Service to continue its efforts to battle bark beetle infestation and to engage in necessary wildfire mitigation efforts and emergency responses.

Udall, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, cheered passage of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. “Many provisions in this omnibus lands bill are critical to the people of Colorado,” he said, “and this legislation represents years of work to bridge the partisan divide here in Washington. I am thrilled that with House passage we almost have the ball over the finish line.”

The President is expected to sign the bill on Monday, according to a Udall staffer.

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With 315,000 Colorado acres as part of the packaged bill, in total, it preserves 2 million acres as wilderness in nine states. It passed 285-140.

Republicans Representatives Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs and Mike Coffman of Aurora both voted against the bill, admonishing the bill’s price tag among other reasons.

“While this bill contains some good provisions for our state, on the whole it remains a bad deal for Colorado and the United States,” Lamborn said in statements released after the vote, adding, “It’s a job-killer for energy because it prohibits American-made energy production and new jobs on more than 3 million acres of federal lands.”

In his statement, Coffman disagreed with adding more land to an already strained public-lands system.

“When there is a $9 billion maintenance backlog on the Park Service land that we already have, why are we spending $10 billion that we will have to borrow to acquire even more land?” he asked.

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@skyhidailynews.com.

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