It includes protection for Ice Lakes Basin
The San Juan Mountains Wilderness Bill, which includes the Ice Lakes Basin area in San Juan County, was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday, Oct. 15, by Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo.
The bill includes 61,682 acres of public land on parts of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests, the San Juan National Forest and the San Juan Bureau of Land Management Resource Area.
All of the acreage affected by this proposal is in San Miguel, Ouray and San Juan counties. A wilderness designation was requested by the county commissioners of those three counties and the bill has the support of the towns of Ridgway, Ouray, Telluride, Mountain Village, Norwood, and Ophir.
The San Juan County Board of Commissioners unanimously endorsed the proposal last summer.
“San Juan County is overjoyed that the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act is being introduced by Congressman Salazar,” said County Commissioner Pete McKay. “What a great example of cooperative partnerships between the federal government, local stakeholders and elected officials working together for the benefit of all.”
The bill will provide permanent protection for some of Colorado’s most renowned views and mountains including the slopes of Mount Sneffels and Wilson Peak; two of the state’s most famous “fourteeners”-peaks above fourteen thousand feet.
“San Miguel, Ouray and San Juan County representatives have expressed their hope that a portion of the natural lands that surround them will be given a wilderness designation for future generations,” Salazar said. “These are the lands which define the character and spirit of our great state and nation and as such, it is my honor today to introduce the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Bill.”
“My thanks to Congressman Salazar for introducing a wilderness bill that will protect some of Colorado’s most treasured landscapes and that has the support of local county governments as well as local and state conservation groups,” said San Miguel County Commissioner Art Goodtimes. “This wilderness bill was built from the ground up, bringing together all stakeholders to produce a final bill that has a broad base of support. I thank the Congressman for his work on this bill and look forward to working with him to secure its passage.”
“The citizens of Ouray and San Miguel Counties requested that the new areas proposed in this bill be designated as wilderness,” said Lynn Padget, an Ouray County commissioner, “And it speaks highly of Congressman John Salazar that he and his staff have met with the local landowners, local governments to make sure that the designation boundaries are as perfect as possible to meet the spirit of the Wilderness Act while also protecting private property rights. The portions of our county now proposed for federal wilderness designation in the bill will certainly add value to the existing areas. Our citizens and visitors value the Sneffels Range of the San Juan Mountains and its high country wilderness areas for winter and summer recreational opportunities like horseback riding, backpacking, snowshoeing and x-country skiing.”