Western Caucus Members React to Massive Federal Land Grab in Colorado

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Western Caucus Members released the following statements in response to provisions of H.R. 803, the federal land grab package that will be brought to the floor this week. The package includes the text of Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)’s Colorado Wilderness Act of 2021 and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO)’s Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act. Combined, these bills will create restrictions on over 1 million acres of land, much of which will be new wilderness – the most restrictive federal land use classification.

“The American people deserve to access our nation’s public lands – not to be locked out of them,” said Chairman Dan Newhouse (R-WA). “A wilderness designation does not guarantee the protection of these lands. In fact, in many cases, this designation can hinder our ability to properly care for them. These bills are another example of the federal government enacting top-down bureaucratic mandates when we should be encouraging local conservation and preservation efforts led by the communities in Colorado that are most affected. The Western Caucus supports public land access, multiple use, and responsible conservation of the outdoors, and we will continue to push for our local communities’ voices to be heard.”

“Together, these two previously failed Democrat land bills make up the largest land grab in Colorado’s history. Colorado already has 3.5 million acres of designated wilderness. These proposed bills work against local economies and fail to protect them from ‘unnecessary and harmful restrictions’ on land use. Additionally, these bills will deprive the Forest Service of much-needed flexibility in caring for forests already suffering from poor health, beetle infestations, and wildfires,” said Vice Chair Doug Lamborn (R-CO). “Many of the Colorado communities impacted by this wilderness package have raised significant concerns including the loss of motorized access and recreation, the elimination of multiple use, and the overall threat to their local economies. Engaging local stakeholders and considering their on-the-ground expertise are critical steps in making decisions about public lands management. Congress should be in the business of supporting local governments in their efforts to manage public lands, not holding them hostage to dangerous policies made thousands of miles away.”

“The people of Colorado’s Third District deserve a voice in land use issues that affect their day-to-day lives, but career politicians in Congress want to drown them out,” said Vice Chair Lauren Boebert (R-CO). “Congresswoman DeGette’s Colorado Wilderness Act and Congressman Neguse’s Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act would designate hundreds of thousands of acres of land as wilderness, closing them to motorized access and energy development. This would hurt the people of Colorado’s Third District by stripping them of their jobs, closing land for recreational use, and imposing the heavy hand of government regulators on their daily lives. So many folks back home will be hurt dramatically by these bills, and no swamp politician ever bothered to ask for their input.”

“Coloradans should have more control over our lands, not less,” said Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO). “The federal government already owns 35.9% of Colorado. This public lands package gives more power to bureaucrats in Washington to enforce onerous restrictions and kill energy jobs. Congress should focus on legislation that empowers state and local governments to make the right decisions for their communities, especially when it comes to managing our beautiful outdoors.”

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