A wilderness proposal for Colorado

  • A balanced rock sits at the entrance to Devils Canyon

    Jean C. Smith


Forty-nine conservation groups ranging from the Sierra Club to the Sheep Mountain Alliance have proposed the creation of 1.3 million acres of additional wilderness in Colorado. Instead of high-elevation rock and ice, these lands are primarily desert and canyon country managed by the Bureau of Land Management. In a recently published proposal, the groups would designate 48 areas as wilderness - 31 areas and about 660,000 acres more than the BLM recommended. With an eye toward preserving important ecosystems and corridors between existing wildlands, the 183-page proposal describes the wilderness value of areas such as the Adobe Badlands near Delta County, Lower Rio Grande Canyon near the New Mexico state line, and the Vermillion Basin, in the northwest corner of the state. Conservationists say the BLM was hasty in disqualifying some potential wilderness. Norm Mullen, a staffer with the Colorado Environmental Coalition, says oil and gas development threatens many of the state's most spectacular roadless areas. For more information or a $12.50 copy of Conservationist's Wilderness Proposal for BLM Lands, contact the Colorado Environmental Coalition, 303/837-8701.

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