To prepare for a world of mountains and snow, it only makes sense to train in some of the roughest, highest mountains that our country has to offer. And 77 years ago, high in the Rocky Mountains, an elite Division of the United States Army gathered outside of Leadville, Colorado to do just that.
I know, because my father was one of them.
While he already knew how to ski, my dad, Robert Reed, was transformed into an elite mountaineer over 18 grueling months in Colorado's Rockies. It may sound nice, skiing in Colorado powder while a war raged on in Europe, but that was far from reality. These young men learned how to operate in conditions and at elevations where few even dared to recreate. And though they may have said it in jest, I remember the stories of the "D"-series trainings being "worse than the Germans." Anyone who has spent time high in the Rockies knows that it is an unforgiving landscape, as unforgiving as the Alpennine Mountains and Nazis that awaited these brave men.
The heroics demonstrated by our relatives have turned Camp Hale into sacred ground for 10th Mountain Division families. Their time in the Rockies and Italy changed these men forever, and as descendants we are fortunate to know who they became after World War II. Their sacrifice changed these men forever, as they fought for those of us who live in the free world today.
Camp Hale is also where America's modern ski industry, and outdoor industry, was conceived. Many of the major ski areas in this country can trace their origins back to a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division. My father, after a long convalescence from his injuries in Italy, started the Ski Patrol at Middlebury College in Vermont, a typical post-war experience.
While we are fortunate that some of these heroes still walk among us, their numbers are shrinking. These brave soldiers faced down tyranny, fought for the free world and returned to form what became the modern outdoor recreation industry. They shaped the state we call home and protected our freedom to enjoy all that it offers. It is a shame that we still have not dedicated the landscape where they trained, and some died, in their memory.
Recognizing a need and opportunity, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet introduced legislation that will permanently protect Camp Hale as the nation's first National Historic Landscape. The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act is a product of many years of stakeholder input from local elected officials, recreationalists, ranchers, and citizens who saw the importance of protecting critical ecosystems and recreation areas in the state. This bill gives Coloradans a chance to protect 400,000 acres of our treasured landscapes, respect our veterans, fuel our economy and preserve our Colorado way of life for the next generation.
Unfortunately, the CORE Act has not seen support from two key Colorado legislators: Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner. Rather than supporting this common sense legislation, Rep.e Tipton brought forth his own proposal that falls short of conservation-minded Coloradans' expectations. His proposal not only fails to protect unique landscapes like Camp Hale and the Thompson Divide, but actually releases protection for almost 40,000 acres of Wilderness Study Areas in Colorado.
Similarly, Sen. Gardner has sat on the sidelines of our state's largest opportunity to protect our public lands. Since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, Sen. Gardner is the only Colorado senator of either party to not support wilderness protections for the state. Colorado is driven by outdoor recreation, home to endless iconic landscapes, and filled with people who love these places. It is shocking that Sen. Gardner has thus far failed to continue that legacy.
Instead of empty rhetoric, Representative Tipton and Senator Gardner should sponsor a good bill more than a decade in the making. The 10th Mountain Division fought for all Colroadans -- and, indeed, all Americans. Our entire delegation should honor their sacrifice, protect the place they trained, and sponsor the CORE Act.
Lorna Reed is a Palisade business owner.