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Responsible Use

Public Lands

“There is a limit to the number of lands of shoreline on the lakes; there is a limit to the number of lakes in existence; there is a limit to the mountainous areas of the world, and . . . there are portions of natural scenic beauty which are God-made, and . . . which of a right should be the property of all people.”- Arthur Carhart

It’s often said that Public Lands were America’s best idea. There are 640 million acres of public lands in the United States. These lands are owned by no one except every man, woman, and child fortunate enough to call themselves American. These lands are in the form of National and State Parks, preserves, monuments, national forests, BLM lands, wilderness areas, and so much more.

These open spaces are for everyone, no matter their race, gender, creed, or economic class. These areas offer everyone freedom. Freedom to hunt and fish, freedom to roan, and freedom for future generations.

In Colorado, over 22 million acres are public lands. These lands help drive the economy from both residents and tourists, provide escapes from daily life, and provide everyone with the opportunity to hunt, fish, hike, camp, and just be outdoors.

Colorado TU members and supporters show their appreciation for public lands and how these areas have affected their daily lives.

Colorado: Outfitted for Public Lands– By Dan Schwartz

Now Entering Public Lands– By Briant Wiles

Memories of Public Lands– By Brad Johnson


TU’s work not only focuses on keeping public lands in public hands but making sure these public lands are safe for all humans and wildlife to use. Below are just a few examples of how Colorado TU is working to make public lands safe.

Abandoned Mines

Abandoned hard rock mines have left a legacy of acidification and metals pollution in streams throughout the western United States, and Peru Gulch – in Summit County’s Snake River drainage – is no exception. Liability under federal laws has been a deterrent for many “good Samaritans” who consider mine site remediation projects, including at the Pennsylvania Mine along Peru Creek. TU is partnering with the Snake River Watershed Task Force to move remediation forward for the Pennsylvania Mine. Working with the model for an administrative consent order with the Environmental Protection Agency developed by TU for the American Fork Canyon in Utah, TU is seeking protection from liability, which would allow the partners to move forward with mine remediation efforts. These efforts offer hope for enhanced water quality and fishery resources in the Snake River drainage.

Roadless Area Protection

TU is working with other sportsmen to promote protection of Colorado’s key backcountry watersheds, areas addressed by the Clinton-era “Roadless Rule.” To help inform debate on the value of these lands and how they should (or should not) be protected, TU published a report – “Where the Wild Lands Are” – highlighting the ecological importance of these roadless area habitats.

Energy Development

Rapidly-advancing energy development in the Rocky Mountain west has raised growing concern for water quality and fisheries in the affected watersheds. Key areas – like the Roan Plateau, which supports unique populations of the native Colorado River cutthroat trout – have become focal points for the debate on how to balance energy production and protection of habitats on public lands. TU offers a credible and effective voice for trout in these debates.