Hermosa watershed bill inching forward

Relay Creek Road will remain in use, but no new roads will be built in the northern part of the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Area, if passed by Congress. Grayrock Mountain is seen in the background during a May 22 flight. Enlarge photo

John Peel/Durango Herald

Relay Creek Road will remain in use, but no new roads will be built in the northern part of the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Area, if passed by Congress. Grayrock Mountain is seen in the background during a May 22 flight.

It’s not exactly screaming through Congress, but the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act is still alive and kicking, backers and aides to two key congressional leaders say.

“It’s moving at a snail’s pace, but it is moving,” says Ty Churchwell, backcountry coordinator for Trout Unlimited and one of the movers and shakers of the plan.

The problem is congressional gridlock, some would say dysfunction. Senators and congressmen just aren’t in the mood to do anything that might help the opposing party, particularly with mid-term elections looming.

“If Hermosa doesn’t pass, it won’t be because of substance,” says Jeff Widen of the Wilderness Society. “It’ll be because of politics.”

An aide to Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said this week that Tipton hopes to get the bill to a floor vote by August recess.

For a broader look at the issue, and a look at the situation from the air, see John Peel’s weekly column, coming in Monday’s Herald online and in print.

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