The San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act seeks to protect 61,000 acres of gorgeous and unique high elevation lands in southwestern Colorado. The Act would create additions to existing wilderness areas and protect some of the last remaining larger tracts of undisturbed wild lands in three counties (map).
Originally introduced by Congressman Salazar in October of 2009, this Act was developed through extensive collaboration with local leaders and stakeholders. As a result, the Act has broad community support from many citizens, county governments, surrounding towns, regional businesses, adjacent landowners and homeowners associations.
WCC members and allies from San Miguel, Ouray and San Juan Counties have worked for years to get this Act through a Congress that hasn’t passed any wilderness protection since 2013. And we’ll keep it up until this area gets to protection it deserves, perhaps as soon as 2017.
In total this Act would:
- Designate the Last Dollar and Liberty Bell Additions to the south side of Mount Sneffels Wilderness, including the area above Telluride (San Miguel County), as well as the Whitehouse addition to the east in Ouray County.
- Designate the Wilson, Sunshine, Lizard Head and San Bernardo Additions to the Lizard Head Wilderness.
- Establish a new 8,614 acre BLM Wilderness area at McKenna Peak, the first Wilderness designation in the Dolores River Watershed.
- Create the 21,697 acre Sheep Mountain Special Management Area, including Ice Lakes Basin near Silverton and alpine terrain near Ophir, grandfathering in existing uses such as heliskiing, but prohibiting any new roads or development.
- Withdraw some 6,500 acres in Naturita Canyon from eligibility for mineral leasing.