1. US Forest Service Plan for Rio Grande National Forest– The final plan has been issued in May and it does not designate special interest areas of Spruce Hole and Chalma Basin that CWF, NWF and many of you have urged during this planning process.
Spruce Hole is relied upon by mule deer and elk to travel between Colorado and New Mexico for seasonal migration. The Chalma Basin provides summer range for mule deer. As the forest plan will remain in effect for 20 years, it is very important that we all remain vigilant to identify any projects that likely would harm these important wildlife areas. We must ensure they do not become fragmented by roads and various future projects. For updates go to the connectedcorridors.com website which CWF helped NWF to establish.
2. Recovering America’s Wildlife Act introduced July 12, 2019 This bill (H.R. 3742) is a bold effort to reverse America’s wildlife crisis.
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will address this with a once in a generation investment to fund wildlife recovery efforts in each state including Colorado. The Colorado Wildlife Action Plan lists 55 “tier 1” species of greatest conservation need and an overall 159 such species. More than 157 members of Congress already have signed onto the bill, including Colorado Representatives Ed Perlmutter and Joe Neguse and Diana DeGette. We had been working to gain support among each of Colorado’s other Representatives. The bill passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee December 5, 2019 with a strong bi-partisan 26-6 vote. In the House the total number of co-sponsors now stands at 180!
When we are able to be in a recovery mode, we hope that shovel-ready jobs such as habitat restoration, invasive species removal and other conservation and recreations efforts to help jump start the economy will be important.
3. Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) bill for full permanent funding LWCF was permanently reauthorized in the public lands package that was signed into law on March 12, 2019.
We understand that the bill to fully and permanently fund LWCF, included in the bi-partisan Great American Outdoors Act, likely will be passed by the Senate very soon “in the next work period.” LWCF has been an important part of Colorado’s conservation and outdoor recreation landscape for several decades. It has provided $268 million to help conserve some of Colorado’s most special open spaces, improve access to several national parks such as Rocky Mountain National Park and national forests such as White River National Forest, and is essential to help fund non-motorized trails and state and local parks. LWCF is funded with royalties from offshore energy development. (As background: In March 2020) a new Senate bi-partisan bill with support of 56 Senators was introduced by Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), combining two bills that would fully fund LWCF (S. 1081) and address maintenance backlog at National Parks (S.500). )
4. South Park lands managed by BLM – expecting Final Plan in June.
The draft environmental impact statement was issued in late June for the public lands that BLM manages in eastern Colorado and also addresses the iconic landscape level of South Park. In this planning process, CWF has focused on South Park for several years. The public comment period closed on September 20, 2019. Our comment letter is attached under this item in News. We expect the final plan to be issued in June.