Eric Galatas, Producer
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is investing $161 million to restore public lands in Colorado and 10 other western states.
Liz Rose, Colorado field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said after a long history of development, prolonged drought and wildfires, some BLM managed lands need help, and claimed the new money allocated for projects in North Park and the San Luis Valley will bring the biggest bang for the buck for hunters, anglers, ranchers, outfitters and a host of other stakeholders.
“These strategic investments in Colorado’s wild and valuable landscapes makes Colorado a better place for hunting, fishing, recreating and making a living,” she said.
Rose noted that public lands support surrounding communities by bringing millions in outdoor recreation dollars to local restaurants, hotels and outfitters. The lands also are used to produce food and energy. The BLM has faced criticism in the past from some who would rather see states and local initiatives take the lead spending public tax dollars.
But Rose explained because the BLM manages more than eight million acres in Colorado alone, there are advantages in federal coordination at scale, and added the agency should accept input from people who have lived experience on these lands.
“Locals or people with concerns about these specific projects will have the opportunity to talk to their local BLM field offices about the work that’s going to be done, what needs to be done, and what issues might arise,” she explained.
The agency will direct $11 million in Inflation Reduction Act money to projects spanning 493,000 acres in Colorado to improve watersheds, make landscapes more resilient to wildfire and drought, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and create more opportunities for recreation. Rose noted this work also is critical for the iconic wildlife that call the North Park area near the Wyoming border home.
“There is critical winter range and migration corridors for big game, as well as aquatic and riparian and wetland habitat. So investing in the habitat now means that that might be high-value habitat for fish and wildlife for many years to come,” she said.
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