What Diana DeGette Would---and Wouldn't---Designate as Federal Wilderness

December 2009

DeGette, DianaCongresswoman Diana DeGette wants to designate 850,000 acres at 34 separate sites in Colorado as federal wilderness, a move that would prevent activities such as drilling for oil or natural gas. But 40,000 acres of the scenic Roan Plateau, much of which has been leased for oil and gas development, will not be included, as the Denver Democrat had initially proposed. Kristofer Eisenla, a spokesman for DeGette, tells The Associated Press the provision was removed because DeGette doesn't want to influence settlement talks that involve environmentalists, who sued to prevent drilling on the Roan. Still, the bill is full of Colorado gems. A 25,285-acre swath called Thompson Creek near Carbondale has sites leased for oil-and-gas development, although development has yet to take place, reports the Denver Business Journal. But the 39,392-acre Unaweep area near Grand Junction has "a few oil-and-gas leases," according to DeGette's office. In a press statement, DeGette cites support for such an idea: A Wilderness Society poll finds that more than 70 percent of Coloradans back protecting more wilderness and wild lands. Click here to see maps and detailed descriptions of the proposed areas.