Located in Southwest Colorado near Durango, the Hermosa Creek Watershed makes up part of the largest remaining unprotected roadless area in Colorado – an area known for excellent big game hunting, as well as fishing for both native and non-native species of trout. For years, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has advocated for protection of this uniquely wild place. Thankfully, BHA is not the only group interested in protecting the area.
Recently, a Hermosa River Protection Workgroup convened which included everyone from miners, to bikers, to loggers, to sportsmen. The group derived a protection plan for the area that all parties could agree on. While no one got exactly what they wanted, a grass-roots-synthesized recommendation was developed that everyone was able to live with. And, in August of 2012, the work group’s recommendation was used by Senator Michael to introduce “The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act.”
While the plan protects only a portion of the larger roadless area, it is the first of its kind to protect an entire watershed. Within the proposed 100,000-acre protected area, 37,236 acres are proposed as wilderness (all on the west side of the creek), 43,217-acre as roadless land, leaving the remainder open to timber activity and other uses.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers understands the importance of protecting roadless lands within the San Juan National Forest – a forest which has seen motorized road miles increase from 2,817 in the late 1990’s, to more than 6,400 miles in 2008. As stated by outfitter Mike Murphy “The viability of nearly every outfitter here depends on roadless areas.”
BHA supports the efforts by so many to come up with an agreeable protection plan for the Hermosa Creek Watershed and it is our hope that Congress will respond by passing the The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act.