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Opinion Columns

Opinion: The CORE Act protects Colorado and honors the brave ski troops who fought for us all

As a Colorado native, I join commissioners from seven counties, several mayors and city councils, and many Colorado citizens who support the CORE Act, because it makes financial sense, and it’s a fair and reasonable choice for Colorado.

On Jan. 25, 2019, Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse introduced legislation that Americans who love public lands can embrace.  

Greg Poschman

The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act aims to honor more than 400,000 acres of Colorado’s most beautiful landscapes, which are prime habitat for wildlife and provide tremendous opportunities for connection to the natural world through four-wheeling, hiking, boating, biking and skiing.

A wide variety of Coloradans support the CORE Act, in contrast to a narrow opposition promoted by the extractive industries.  

A coalition including a rancher, business owners, outdoorsmen and elected officials recently traveled to D.C. to advocate for the bill. While members of this group may disagree on a number of things, they all strongly support this legislation.

An essential element of the CORE Act is making Camp Hale a National Historic Landscape, to be protected in perpetuity for all Americans. Honoring the soldiers of Camp Hale makes me especially proud.  

My father, Sgt. Harry Poschman, taught skiing at Camp Hale for the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

After teaching the art of skiing to both decorated generals and new recruits, he went on to serve and survive the horrendous battles in the Italian Apennines with one ambition; to return to the Colorado mountains to ski.

This long overdue designation is a fitting way to honor the brave ski troops who fought for all of us, then returned to father modern skiing, alpine resorts, land conservation and outdoor recreation.

Before the last of the 10th Mountain Division troopers pass on, Colorado’s senators and congressmen should join forces to honor them and designate this landscape.

The CORE Act also protects the Thompson Divide, which has united Coloradans in the surrounding Pitkin, Garfield and Gunnison counties for more than a decade, including ranchers and farmers who depend upon the runoff for clean water.  

Importantly, the CORE Act respects the rights and concerns of existing gas leaseholders by offering a credit and exchange program, as well as allowing currently developed leases to remain.

This is the responsible way to recognize leaseholders’ investments, while also protecting wildlife habitat, recreational lands and essential watersheds that support our way of life in Colorado.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Lest we forget, this water is the life-source of millions of water-users downstream. The Thompson Divide must not become yet another heavily industrialized Colorado landscape fragmented by oil and gas development.

Wildlife are often left out of conversations about land use. And it shows. Recent dramatic declines in Colorado’s elk and deer herds, (50% in many areas) are related to human encroachment onto what was and continues to be, essential Colorado wildlife habitat.  

Colorado hunters are observing the loss directly. Avid outdoorsman and hunter Tim Wolf stopped hunting in the Eagle River Valley 10 years ago because the deer and elk populations have largely disappeared.

“It’s time for us to focus our efforts on protecting wildlife habitat from over-development and human encroachment. The CORE Act proposes to protect our wildlife while supporting responsible recreation,” Wolf says.

Colorado’s $62.5 billion outdoor recreation economy relies upon open lands free from drill pads, settling ponds, pipelines and service roads.

It depends upon Colorado’s pristine outdoor reputation, which provides steady revenue to the state, a healthy balance to the rollercoaster of the “boom and bust” oil and gas economy.

Colorado’s citizens, especially our elected officials, should assume the leading role in creating a sustainable economy for our grandchildren.  

We must balance resource extraction, tourism, outdoor recreation, renewables and a healthy ecology. Please write to your representatives in Washington, D.C. Let them know that you will support them when they vote for the CORE Act!

Greg Poschman is a Pitkin County Commissioner.