The Languishing Wilderness

Today, Senator Ken Salazar blasted Colorado's other senator in a hand-delivered letter claiming that Wayne Allard and Representative Marilyn Musgrave have been using Rocky Mountain National Park as a "political pawn." To fully appreciate the indignant and injured tone of this broadside, check out the text here.

What's got Salazar steamed? Simply this: For 32 years, large portions of Rocky Mountain have been "under consideration" for wilderness status, but Congress has failed to act. The park currently has 3,000 acres of officially designated wilderness, and another 250,000 acres that could get wilderness protection if Salazar can get action on a bill he introduced last year. Instead, Allard and Musgrave have announced plans to introduce their own legislation. Allard insists he's just trying to move the process along in a bipartisan fashion; see his response here.

To find out why wilderness designation for Colorado's most popular national park is a big deal, read "Loved to Death," a detailed examination of the pain of the park's success, that first appeared in the September 23, 2004 issue of Westword.—Alan Prendergast