Contact Lance Cayko
For Immediate Release 4/1/19
The Poison Seeds in the CORE Act by Bonnie Pyle
Believe it or not spring is upon us. With the warmer weather many people’s thoughts turn to the wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities that Colorado offers. This year Colorado’s outdoor recreation is faced with the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy act CORE. This proposal aims to “protect” over 400,000 acres of Colorado wilderness for recreational use. Sounds great doesn’t it? Most headlines we’ve seen concerning this act are positive and ask Colorado citizens to support it. While Colorado already has 16% of it’s Federal and State owned land that is Wilderness, meaning that it is protected from the people, not for the people. 400,000 additional acres of protected outdoor recreation areas sounds like a great thing to support, unless you happen to enjoy snowmobiling, Jeeping, dirt biking, ATV’s, mountain biking or being able to be wheeled into a beautiful spot in your wheelchair.
The CORE act is a repackaged attempt to sell previously failed recreation acts. Unfortunately, this “protection” of Colorado Wilderness isn’t nearly as altruistic as it seems. The CORE proposal combines the San Juan Wilderness Proposal, and the Continental Divide Wilderness Proposal. The San Juan portion of CORE Wilderness closes approximately 55,000 acres to motorized or mechanized usage with 32,000 acres of Wilderness and 23,000 acres of management areas prohibiting motorized usage.
While the act will not close the popular Jeep badge of honor trail of Imogene pass, it does threaten it by moving wilderness boundaries so close to the trail that maintenance would be nearly impossible. If a trail can’t be properly maintained for off road vehicle use it will ultimately face closure. In addition to existing trail closures and restrictions, the San Juan portion of the CORE act will close the Sheep Mountain area near Silverton to snowmobiling and mountain biking. However, private heliskiing will continue in the area via Helitrax, a Telluride based company charging 1,345 per person for a day of skiing.
The Continental Divide portion of CORE Wilderness proposes 43,000 acres of Wilderness and 28,000 acres of management areas that prohibit motorized and mechanized usage.
Outdoor recreation is big business in Colorado, with 62.5 billion being spent on outdoor recreation activities in 2017. About 90% of adult Coloradoans participating in some type of outdoor recreation. Trail use was the most popular with 83% of adults in Colorado using the trails in some way. Off road vehicle use is a very popular pastime on many of the Colorado trails. In the 2014-2015 season off road vehicle use generated approximately 2.3 billion in the Colorado economy. This produced 16,000 jobs and 107 million dollars in tax revenue, not numbers to be ignored.
The CORE act will have an impact on these numbers as it reduces access to public lands for off- road vehicle enthusiasts. Government controlled public lands are a fact of life in America, with the federal government notoriously making land grabs from the individual states under the guise of the common good and public lands for all. The CORE act is at its heart an ugly example of this wrapped up in colorful packaging to sell it to the public, and those who only read the headlines are likely to buy it.
With the CORE act we will see limits on land use for motorized vehicle users, Jeeps, snowmobiles, ATVs, dirt bikes, UTVs and even mountain bikes in some cases, all the individuals that brought 2.3 billion dollars into Colorado in 2014-2015. The CORE act also clearly demonstrates favoritism for corporations by closing off areas for the general public but allowing use by a private heliskiing operation.
If we are going to have government controlled public lands, they must be accessible to all the public, not just a select few, or those with the most money. People oppose the idea of privatizing public lands, but they are ok with the government choosing who gets to use the land and in what way. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Government land grabs that limit the use of the land are in no way better than private land ownership wherein the public is not allowed in, and if we are to allow it we must stand up for the use of the land by everyone.
The CORE act simply does not do that. Colorado’s wilderness absolutely should be protected and cherished, by those who use it. Heavy handed government overreach benefits no one except the government. The Libertarian platform on property is quite clear in individual rights:
“We hold that rights to property are individual rights and, as such, are entitled to the same protections as all other individual rights”. If land is to be designated public shouldn’t all individuals have the same right to use it as they wish?
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Bonnie is a libertarian living in Teller County, Colorado. She’s a passionate about fitness, animal rescue, and an avid outdoor adventurer.
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Lance Cayko at 303.775.7406 or email at CommunicationsDirector@LPColorado.org.