Proposed San Juan Wilderness Expansion

Oct 2, 2006
New Mexico
Did a search. Couldn't find any discussion on this topic outside of the Hundreds In The Hills 8 thread.

I heard about some new legislation that is proposing to expand the wilderness areas in SW CO in the San Juans. You guys are close enough to care about it. Plus, at leas you live in CO, instead of my home state of NM so you might have a little more vested interest in it. I got the heads up on the Hundreds In The Hills 8 thread from @a19pilot.

Emailing - COHVCO

I sent several emails to multiple legislators expressing my concern for wilderness expansion in an area that already has vast areas of wilderness and gets heavy motorized vehicle usage, describing my worries that it would reduce motorized access. I did get a lengthy response from Senator Bennet's staff member, John Whitney:



Thank you for contacting us about the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act, we appreciate hearing your concerns and input on this legislation.

The bill has the support of Ouray County, San Miguel County, San Juan County, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, Mountain Village, Ridgway and many other stakeholders who believe it represents a balanced approach to public land management and preserves existing recreational opportunities that are an important part of the economy in the San Juan Mountains. We certainly understand that motorized recreational opportunities are important to many people in Colorado and we support that use. We appreciate the chance to address your concerns about possible impacts to motorized recreation, and clarify what this bill does.

The San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act does not close any designated off-highway vehicle trails, groomed snowmobile routes or roads. The official legislative maps for the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act are attached. They show the proposed Wilderness and Special Management Areas, which specifically avoid existing roads and trails. A broad overview map of the proposed designations is also attached.

We have heard concerns that the bill will close summer travel routes like Yankee Boy Basin, Imogene Pass, Ophir Pass and other iconic and important four wheel drive routes in the San Juan Mountains. That is not the case. As this bill was developed and revised the motorized community was consulted with to avoid all summer motorized routes, groomed snowmobile routes, and high use snowmobile corridors. These were excluded from the acreage in the bill to allow for their continued use. Attached to this email is a letter from representatives of the three counties where the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act is located. It provides additional clarification and information on this legislation.

Thank you again for reaching out to us. For additional information on the bill please see this link for our press release on the bill.

If you have any more questions about the bill or want to discuss the bill in more detail I would be happy to visit with you more on it. Feel free to email me back or give me a call.

John Whitney | Western Slope Regional Director
U.S. Senator Michael F. Bennet | 970-259-1710
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