Senate staffer hopeful Park wilderness bill will pass this time |

Senate staffer hopeful Park wilderness bill will pass this time

The Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Act is still in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Cody Wertz of Sen. Ken Salazars staff. Our hope is that it is on the Senate floor later this year, he said.If passed, the act would designate 249,339 acres in Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness, guaranteeing that the backcountry of the Park will continue to be managed as it has been since the 1970s.After a rocky go when the bill was last proposed, due to concerns about the Grand Ditch water delivery system that snakes through Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado legislators reconvened to find language on which both sides of the political aisle could agree. Its the first major wilderness bill for Rocky Mountain National Park that has bi-partisan delegation support, Wertz said. Things look very positive to get (RMNP wilderness) done this time . . . We are hopeful.The Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Act allows for the Park to continue its bark beetle and fire mitigation efforts, as well as emergency response actions. The bill ensures that water rights connected to the Colorado-Big Thompson Project or the Grand River Ditch will not be affected. In the interest of Grand County, the bill also allows for the possible construction of a bike trail near Grand Lake.In the 1964 Wilderness Act, the definition of wilderness is an, area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of mans work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.

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