Three members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation reintroduced four bills related to public lands and land use issues across the state on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Democratic Rep. Jared Polis and Republican Reps. Scott Tipton and Doug Lamborn managed to get all four bills approved in the House of Representatives in the last session, but they did not make it to the U.S. Senate for a vote. Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner sponsored the companion legislation at that time.
According to a news release, the four bills include the Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act, which would allow the Town of Minturn to use its existing water right to fill Bolts Lake through special use of the Bolts Ditch headgate and part of the Bolts Ditch within the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. When Congress designated the wilderness area in 1980, Bolts Ditch was inadvertently left off the list of existing water facilities.
The Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act would expand the Arapaho National Forest, informally known as the “Wedge,” to include ten new parcels of land, which are now undeveloped. The move allows the U.S. Forest Service to effectively protect and preserve an area were millions of people travel annually.
The Elkhorn Ranch and White River National Forest Conveyance Act would resolve a costly title dispute between the federal government and private landowners. It would convey a small part of land near Rifle to property owners who have used and paid property taxes on the acreage for years.
The Crags, Colorado Land Exchange Act would convey 320 acres of land on the west side of Pikes Peak to the U.S. Forest Service. The Broadmoor Hotel now owns the land, and in exchange, the government will transfer an 83-acre parcel at Emerald Valley Ranch to the Broadmoor.
“Whether it’s helping the town of Minturn access clean and affordable drinking water, or expanding access to our beautiful wilderness, these bills will improve livelihood of our communities and environment,” Polis said. “I’m glad that both Democrats and Republicans were able to work together for Coloradans on these commonsense, nonpartisan solutions.”
“I am proud to work alongside my Colorado colleagues to protect our public lands and facilitate bipartisan, non-controversial land conveyances,” Tipton said. “Together, we can work to preserve Colorado’s pristine areas and cultural treasures, while ensuring state and individual property and water rights are honored.”
“Each of these bills will improve our communities and benefit the people of Colorado,” Lamborn said. “I am pleased to have worked alongside my House colleagues, Jared Polis and Scott Tipton, to introduce these commonsense bills to resolve various land disputes and improve access to our public lands. I hope to see these four bipartisan bills enacted into law as quickly as possible.”