August 12, 2020
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Chairman, Senate Committee on
Energy and Natural Resources
Senator Joe Manchin
Ranking Member, Senate Committee
on Energy and Natural Resources
Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Manchin,
On behalf of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, a non-profit organization representing over 1,800 current and former National Park Service employees, we urge you to keep the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act when the conference committee meets in the coming weeks.
As a group, the Coalition collectively represents more than 40,000 years of national park management experience. We believe that our national parks and related public lands represent the very best of America, and we advocate for effective and collaborative stewardship of them.
We support the CORE Act that provides for the designation of the San Juan Wilderness Area, the protection of certain portions of the Thompson Divide from mineral exploration and development, and the designation of the Camp Hale area as a National Historic Landscape in honor of the training done there by the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.
We also strongly support the portion of the CORE Act that would officially authorize the establishment of Curecanti National Recreation Area, thus making it a full-fledged member of the National Park System.
Curecanti National Recreation Area was created in 1965 through an agreement between the National Park Service (NPS) and the Bureau of Reclamation that was signed by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. A careful reading of that agreement suggests that all parties envisioned that Congress would pass legislation for the area quickly. Unfortunately, it has been 55 years and there has been no legislation officially authorizing Curecanti National Recreation Area as part of the National Park System. The recreation area is one of only a couple of park units that have never had their own authorizing legislation.
Designating Curecanti National Recreation Areas as a unit of the National Park System will ensure the protection of its superb resources in perpetuity and provide for continued public access for a variety of recreational purposes. This legislation will also result in an exchange of lands between the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management that will allow each agency to acquire certain parcels that would be most efficient for them to manage. Significantly, the Curecanti legislation will not create a single acre of federal land that is not already federal land.
We urge you to support keeping the CORE Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act during the conference committee action on this bill. Thank you for considering our views on this important legislation.
Philip A. Francis, Jr.
Chair, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks