CCAGW Urges Opposition to H.R. 2546 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

CCAGW Urges Opposition to H.R. 2546

Letters to Officials

February 12, 2020

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative,

You will soon consider H.R. 2546, Colorado Wilderness Act of 2019 (Protecting America’s Wilderness Act), sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.). On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), I urge you to oppose this legislation.

The federal government controls approximately 640 million acres, or roughly one-third, of land in the U.S., including around 111 million acres for 803 wilderness designated areas. Due to efforts by the Trump Administration and Congress to consolidate and open federal land to energy production, the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) land production and activity in fiscal year 2018 contributed “$183 billion to the Nation’s GDP, created about $315 billion in economic output, and supported an estimated 1.8 million jobs.” While DOI’s management of public lands has drastically improved, unreasonable regulatory burdens continue to stymie conservation efforts, constrain recreation, and stifle natural resource research and development.

Instead of shrinking the federal land footprint, H.R. 2546 would create or expand federal control over 30 wilderness areas, covering more than 1.4 million acres of land. This massive land grab would give supervision primarily to the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forestry Service more than 600,000 acres in Colorado and nearly 700,000 acres in California and Washington. This legislation would also add close to 1,000 miles of waterways to the National Wild and Scenic River Systems.

H.R. 2546 poses serious management challenges and inconsistencies with current public land usage. While some outdoor activities are allowed within new wilderness designations, other recreational pursuits like mountain biking and off-road motorized vehicle use are not permitted. This conflicts in some areas where such recreational activities are already allowed. For example, the proposed Bangs Canyon Wilderness in Colorado would be divided by the Tabeguache Trail, a popular public route for bikers and motorists. Due to wilderness restrictions, H.R. 2546 would make an 8-mile stretch of the 142-mile trail incompatible with current recreational standards.

H.R. 2546 would also create difficulties for existing energy development projects, including active mining claims and oil and gas leases. In the proposed South Shale Wilderness, 11,000 acres of land contain oil and gas leases and nine producing wells. In another proposed area, the Snaggletooth Wilderness, 27 oil and gas leases exist as well as several active uranium claims, a resource identified as a critical mineral to the economy and national security by the U.S. Geological Survey.

As the Trump Administration continues to assess critical mineral resources on public lands and drive the U.S. further toward energy independence, federal land management needs to shrink and be a contributor, not grow and become a hindrance. Again, I urge you to oppose H.R. 2546. All votes on this legislation will be among those considered for CCAGW’s 2020 Congressional Ratings.

Sincerely,

Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

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