Why do we need wilderness?
Wilderness is the highest form of protection available for federal lands. Citizen efforts to designate wilderness, ensure that special places will remain in their natural state, preserving the land as vital wildlife habitat and for future generations.
Cleaner air and water. Coloradans enjoy some of the cleanest air and water in the country thanks to wilderness protections that allow forest and river ecosystems to remain fully intact and perform their vital function as filters of our air and water. In fact many towns and cities have little or no costs associated with water purification for municipal drinking water due in large part because the headwaters of those water supplies lie in wilderness areas.
Support for the economy. Our resort and mountain economies are well served by wilderness protections. Our ski resorts and their customers rely on world-class views of the wild backcountry of the Rocky Mountains. Climbers and mountaineers, equestrians, fishers and hunters, hikers, cross country skiers and snowshoers, backcountry skiers, kayakers and rafters all utilize wilderness areas and contribute a tremendous amount to the economy of Central Colorado. And designated wilderness allows ranchers to graze their sheep and cattle in healthy backcountry ecosystems. Studies have shown that counties around the Western U.S. that contain protected wilderness have stronger economies than similarly sized counties that do not.
Maintain healthy ecosystems. One of the best ways to ensure animals have adequate habitat is to protect large amounts of land in a relatively undisturbed state: wilderness designation does just that. Our forests and mountain peaks, lakes and streams and the wildlife that inhabit them are what sparks imaginations of residents and visitors alike. For many of us, just knowing the lands around us are being managed in a way that keeps Colorado the wild place we love is reason enough to support wilderness.
Quiet undisturbed lands. Wilderness prohibits industrial activity like oil and gas development, road building and mechanized travel. Done in a responsible manner and in the right place these activities can be less harmful but they all do have impacts, which reduce the benefits of the values described above. To read more about the impacts of these activities click on the following links.
Oil and Gas Development | Roads and Off-Road Vehicles | Snowmobiles | Mountain Bikes