Udall, Bennet want Curecanti boundaries set

Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are seeking public comment about a proposed bill to define the boundaries of the Curecanti National Recreation Area in Gunnison County.

The recreation area, which is on the south side of Blue Mesa Reservoir, is managed by three federal agencies, including the National Park Service.

The bill would define the actual boundaries of the area and would give control of it to the park service without affecting Bureau of Reclamation management of nearby dams and reservoir infrastructure.

“Establishing clear boundaries for the Curecanti National Recreation Area will ensure the continued preservation of this magnificent recreational resource for future generations,” Udall said in a statement. “Protecting public lands in the right way can support jobs, our economy and the qualify of life that makes Colorado the envy of the world.”

The draft bill Udall and Bennet would introduce in the Senate would allow the park service and nearby landowners to take advantage of federal laws to conserve private land around the recreation area.

That could happen if the agency helps maintain or improve wildlife habitat, water quality, natural scenery and other resources, the senators said.

They expect the bill to help preserve more than 24,000 acres of private land, but on a voluntary basis of those landowners.

The comment period could be several months, depending on what kind of response the senators get from the local community and people who use the recreation area, Udall spokesman Mike Saccone said.

He couldn’t say when a bill would be introduced, adding that it depends on that response.

The draft bill stems from a 2008 study of the area called for under the 1999 federal law that created the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the Gunnison National Conservation Area.

That study recommended better defining the area’s boundaries and solidifying the Park Service’s control of it.

“Formalizing the boundaries of the (area) will preserve this treasure, help boost tourism in the region and drive the local economy,” Bennet said. “Input from the local community and other stakeholders will ensure that we accomplish our goal in a way that everyone can be proud.”

Anyone can leave comments about the draft bill on Udall’s website at http://www.markudall.senate.gov/curecanti.


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