As the outdoor recreation world rallied in Denver, two of Colorado’s leaders in Washington offered a plan to bolster protection for more than 98,000 acres of federal land in Eagle and Summit counties.

Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Jared Polis’ Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act was pretty much guaranteed a warm embrace at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in Denver. The Outdoor Retailer trade show bailed from its longtime home in Utah when state leaders there urged the downsizing of national monuments, which the Trump Administration supported with a plan to shave almost two million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase – Escalante monuments.

“Thank you,” said Adam Schuknecht, the owner of Leadville’s City on a Hill coffeeshop, one of several Western Colorado business owners gathered Saturday by the Continental Divide Trail Coalition to discuss the importance of public lands with Bennet. “Our county is 80 percent public lands … it’s really important that we protect them.”

The proposal, which Polis has proposed three times since 2010, creates three new wilderness areas and expands three others. The new bill includes Bennet’s two-year push to designate a first-ever National Historic Landscape for Camp Hale, which would support enhancement and protection of almost 29,000 acres where the storied 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II. The bill creates three new wilderness areas in the Tenmile Range, Hoosier Ridge and Williams Fork Mountains and expands three existing wilderness areas: Eagles Nest, Ptarmigan Peak and Holy Cross.

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