The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act includes four measures—the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act; the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act; the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act; and the Curecanti National Recreation Area Boundary Establishment Act—that will protect over 400,000 acres in Colorado through new wilderness, recreation and conservation areas, and establish a new historic landscape designation for Camp Hale, where the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II.
The CORE Act protects Camp Hale by creating the first-ever National Historic Landscape, preserving nearly 29,000 acres surrounding Camp Hale. From November 1942 through June 1944 Camp Hale housed 14,000 troops—along with 4,000 mules and 250 sled dogs—of the 10th Mountain Division, who learned to rock climb, perform military maneuvers on skis, and endure a brutal climate in preparation for mountain warfare. Over 18 grueling months soldiers trained to fight at high altitudes.
The Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) chapter is committed to helping pass the CORE Act, securing long overdue recognition and protection for Camp Hale along with preserving 400,000 acres of wildlife habitat that safeguards backcountry fishing and hunting opportunities and preserves healthy habitat for native trout, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose, black bears and other game species.
The CORE Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives during February 2021. During May 2022 the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee took up the CORE Act in an official “mark-up,” a critical step toward advancing the bill in the Senate. There’s only one more step, a Senate floor vote, before it can go to the President’s desk. We’re hopeful this will occur during 2022. However, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert opposes the bill, calling it a “land grab.”
Unfortunately, Boebert has made a habit of adopting anti-hunting/habitat protection positions. For example, she’s a co-sponsor of the RETURN Our Constitutional Rights Act of 2022, which was introduced to essentially repeal the Pittman-Robertson Act and the Dingell-Johnson Act. In a nutshell, these two longstanding acts place taxes on purchases related to hunting, fishing, shooting gear and equipment.
These taxes were put in place at the request of the sportspersons’ community decades ago. They asked to be taxed for the benefit of all wildlife that Americans enjoy. The funds these taxes generate are then redistributed to all 50 states’ wildlife and fisheries agencies, helping fund hunter education and safety programs, wildlife conservation and restoration, and a whole lot more.
“So, it’s with ever-growing dismay and frustration that I see Colorado’s own Lauren Boebert providing yet another example of her incompetence as my district’s representative,” explained Adam Gall, a licensed outfitter from Hotchkiss. “She has signed on as a co-sponsor of this poorly thought-out bill to take away a very significant, longstanding and widely supported means of funding our outdoor legacy that’s the envy of the world.”
Perhaps Boebert doesn’t know that, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Center for Western Priorities, more than 8 in 10 Coloradans support protections for CORE Act areas. The CORE Act is a result of a decade-long collaborative process, drawing on input from counties, businesses, ranchers, outdoor recreation groups, conservationists, hunters and anglers to protect our shared public lands.
Colorado BHA Central West Slope Regional Director Craig Grother said, “…the bill … reflects the clear desires of local communities to have these lands protected in perpetuity.” “The San Juan Mountains portion of the CORE Act … protects the headwaters of three watersheds in the region, including the Colorado River’s cutthroat trout habitat,” Craig added. “It also safeguards wildlife corridors and critical habitat for elk, mule deer, rocky mountain bighorn sheep and desert bighorn sheep.”
The future of our hunting and fishing heritage and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation depends on our ability to conserve intact landscapes and address the needs of wildlife in the face of increasing challenges. The CORE Act provides important habitat protections that will have long-term benefits for wildlife. We thank CORE Act sponsors Senator Michael Bennet, Senator John Hickenlooper and Representative Joe Neguse for championing this public lands legislation and honoring our World War II veterans.
The 10th Mountain Division was deactivated in 1945 and subsequently re-activated in 1985, based out of Fort Drum, New York. Since then, the 10th has deployed to Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, but no matter where they’re based members honor their alpine legacy by retaining the Mountain tab on their sleeve insignia. Learn more about the CORE Act at https://coreact.org/.
David Lien is a former Air Force officer and co-chairman of the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He’s the author of six books including “Hunting for Experience: Tales of Hunting & Habitat Conservation.” During 2019 he was the recipient of BHA’s Mike Beagle-Chairman’s Award “for outstanding effort on behalf of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.”