Senator Joseph Manchin
306 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington DC 20510
Dear Senator Manchin;
The above Organizations are contacting you to express our vigorous opposition to the CORE Wilderness Proposal. Our Organizations represent a broad coalition of groups focused on motorized recreational activities, but our members often participate in a wide range of other recreational activities such as hunting, fishing and camping. Contrary to the common assertions around these Proposals, these Proposals do close or restrict large tracts of lands currently open to all recreation to future development and also close trails or areas that are open to multiple uses from current usages. These Proposals have failed to garner the support from the Representatives Offices for the area being designated under either Proposal.
We have tried to work with Senator Bennett’s Offices for years to address our concerns to no avail, which is a revolution from our efforts around the development of the Hermosa Watershed Protection Act passed into law in 2016. In the Hermosa Watershed efforts, diverse communities meaningful came together to address an area but these Proposal have not adopted this truly collaborative model. While there have been areas removed or boundaries altered, this in no way removes our concerns as these proposals have become highly political paybacks for small special interest groups. Rather than our efforts moving forward towards something we can support, these efforts have gone the other way. It is now commonplace to have to ask for maps for proposals when they are reintroduced in highly altered forms and then wait months for maps to be produced and made public.
Our first concern on the Amendments is the development of the Proposals and the fact that the two proposals are being used as nothing but a shell game for area designations. In a highly frustrating turn in these discussions, areas that have been removed in previous versions of the CORE Act, based on community input have been reinserted in the Protecting Americas Wilderness Act. No reasoning for the presence of these areas as proposed Wilderness has ever been provided and this is highly frustrating.
Second is the fact that this proposal puts our member’s safety at issue and this is an issue that we assert with all seriousness. Several areas proposed to be Wilderness are areas that are used as part of the High-Altitude Aviation Training Center (HAATS) and these areas would be functionally closed to future usage. From our perspective, designating the HAATS training area as Wilderness as part of the NDAA is simply insulting to the intent of the NDAA and all military aviators who learned this critical skill set at the HAATS . Not only is this area unique in the country for training military aviators to fly at high altitudes, this is where most search and rescue pilots learn this skill set as well. These skilled search and rescue pilots are VERY important to our user’s safety as these are the pilots who often recover injured or lost recreational users of the backcountry after their backcountry recreational experience has taken an unexpected direction.
The third concern is we lose access, both now and in the future in areas that have been subjected to intensive NEPA analysis within the last few years and found to be suitable and sustainably available for recreational usage, and many areas are designated for future expansion or relocation of recreational opportunities. Many of these areas again proposed to be Wilderness were the topics of extensive discussions in either Forest level planning or development of the Colorado Roadless Rule. After this site-specific inventory and extensive public engagement, many of these areas were designated for multiple uses. Again, this information simply is never addressed in the Proposals. We have attached the testimony of USFS representatives to the House Natural Resources Committee in 2019 outlining these impacts. These impacts remain largely unresolved in 2022. We have also attached the comments we submitted regarding the Curecanti portions of the proposal. These simple requirements for access that were recently provided under US Park Service efforts, would be lost under CORE.
Please feel free to contact Scott Jones, Esq. if you should wish to discuss any of the issues that have been raised in these comments further. His contact information is Scott Jones, Esq phone 518-281-5810; email Scott.firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Jones, Esq.
COHVCO/TPA Authorized Rep.
CSA Executive Director