Norton opposes wilderness plans

Senate candidate says proposals dictated by Denver, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton said she opposes legislation that would establish more than 40 new wilderness areas in western Colorado, contending they were dictated from Denver and Washington D.C.

The wilderness areas proposed by Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Jared Polis, D-Boulder, “threaten private property rights, access to our public lands for recreational enthusiasts, state water rights, and even provide significant barriers to access for really critical military training facilities,” Norton said on Thursday.

Norton spoke about the wilderness issues to Colorado Ski Country in Denver.

Spokesmen for DeGette and Polis didn’t respond immediately for comment Thursday.

The designations of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Great Sand Dunes national parks were supported by local residents as beneficial to everyone, Norton said.

“But this is Washington and Denver imposing their will on local communities, and it’s wrong,” Norton said in a statement. “Congresswoman DeGette and Congressman Polis would do themselves a favor by focusing on traffic issues on I-25 and the Boulder Turnpike rather than telling rural communities how to manage the resources in their backyard.”

Norton, a Grand Junction native and former Colorado lieutenant governor, on Wednesday qualified for the Republican primary ballot. She faces Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck in the race to face one of two Democrats, Sen. Michael Bennet or former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

DeGette’s wilderness bill includes several locations in the region of the Grand Junction Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, including Bangs Canyon, Demaree Canyon, Granite Creek, Little Bookcliffs and Palisade wilderness study areas.

Polis’ Hidden Gems proposal includes 16 locations in the Roaring Fork Valley among 44 scattered across the Western Slope.


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