Routt commissioners support adjusting the Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area expansion boundaries

New boundaries take fire mitigation into account

A proposal from the Trappers Lake Group of the Sierra Club wanted to add 7,200 acres to the Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area, but is shrinking that to aid in fire mitigation.
Dylan Anderson/ Steamboat Pilot & Today

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the Catamount Metropolitan District and the Catamount Residential Property Owners Association’s ongoing concerns over fire mitigation, and opposition to the proposed expansion of the Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners indicated on Monday, Jan. 9, that the county would prepare a letter to the local congressional delegation supporting expansion of the Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area.

The Trappers Lake Group of the Sierra Club, the group behind actualizing Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area, altered its original expansion proposal to try to appease concerns from the Catamount Metropolitan District.

“I believe that the information that was provided by the proponents showing that they had made arrangements or negotiated a revision of the boundaries of the proposed edition was adequate to address any concerns that the Catamount Metropolitan District had,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said.

The Catamount Metropolitan District opposes the expansion and has concerns about fire mitigation in a wilderness area. In an attempt to address the concerns, the new proposal would add a 1,000-foot buffer zone around the border of Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area for fire mitigation. In order to do this, the proposed expansion of 7,200 acres was shrunk by 360 acres. This boundary will have a gradual change in vegetation to aid in fire suppression and prevent fire from spreading too quickly.

Ultimately, this act requires federal legislation. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s team has already shown support.

“We’re aware of the work being done by the Sierra Club’s Trappers Lake Group to build local support for a proposal to expand the Sarvis Creek Wilderness in the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest, and we look forward to continuing to learn more about this proposal and from stakeholders on the ground,” Bennet’s team said.

Bennet’s Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, or CORE, could be a roadblock for this project, according to previous discussions this June with Routt County commissioners. While Sen. John Hickenlooper and Rep. Joe Neguse join Bennett in sponsoring CORE, which protects another 73,000 acres of wilderness, it does not include the Sarvis Creek expansion.

In Monday’s session, Corrigan said this initiative would supplement President Joe Biden’s 30-30 plan, an effort that looks to protect 30% of the country’s land and waters by 2030.

The board’s approval of a letter will appear on next week’s consent agenda, which is reserved for noncontroversial items.

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