Washington, D.C. – Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) voted no on the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2019 last Wednesday. The bill would designate a total of 1.5 million acres of new wilderness, 843 miles of wild and scenic rivers, and expand national monuments by 100,00 acres, even though the National Forest System (NFS) did not recommend many of the areas for the designation.
The bill would cover areas in three states: California, Colorado and Washington and includes six pieces of legislation rolled into one. In addition to government over-reach, concerns were raised about the fact that procedure was not followed in the process to designate these lands.
“The U.S. Forest Service utilizes a land management planning process that allows local stakeholders to have their concerns taken into account,” said Rep. Bacon. “Many of these areas were not recommended through this process. In fact, many local stakeholders, including colleagues of mine who live in these areas, have come out opposed to these designations.”
In addition, according to the testimony from the NFS, many of these lands have areas that are of “non-conforming uses or conditions affecting wilderness character and were not recommended for wilderness designation in the forests’ respective land management plans.”
“Over one-quarter of the U.S. landmass is under control of the federal government and much of it is poorly managed,” said Rep. Bacon. “This legislation raised serious concerns about federal government overreach. These areas are better served by local interests and the states.”
“We should all take note when the federal government sweeps in and decides that they know better than those who currently manage or live on the land,” added Rep. Bacon. “While we have a duty to protect sensitive ecological areas, we can’t allow the government to not follow its own land management planning processes.”