Good things happening in the world of recreation and wilderness preservation near Durango, Colorado. Last week, U.S. Rep. John Salazar announced his intentions of pursuing legislation to create a Hermosa Creek Wilderness Area.
Late in 2007, the San Juan Public Lands Center released a draft forest plan to the public. As part of any forest plan revision, roadless areas must be considered as potential wilderness areas, and the local Forest Service recommended a large piece of the Hermosa Roadless Area as wilderness. However, the original plan prompted an outcry from the mountain bike community. As originally proposed, the wilderness designation would have closed a large section of the Colorado Trail to bikes and would have completely closed the South Fork, Salt Creek, Corral Draw and Clear Creek trails to cyclists. Nearly three years and dozens of stakeholder meetings later, the Forest Service and John Salazar are pursuing a new configuration.
Alliance grantee Wilderness Support Center has been working on the issue and it's great to see that conservation and recreation are finally coming together to draft a plan that benefits all parties involved.
"Now I am not opposed to drilling or production of gas, we all know that the San Juan Basin in this county is an important natural resource," Salazar said. "But as with all things there needs to be a balance between protection of our environment and production of the resources. These areas contain land important to sportsmen, bikers, ranchers, and wildlife, and the watershed for Durango. They deserve protection."