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Polis brings back Bolts Ditch bill to improve Minturn water supply access

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January 25, 2017, 11:30 am

U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton and Jared Polis, who both represent parts of Eagle County in Congress, have joined with Colorado Springs Republican Doug Lamborn to introduce several bipartisan bills aimed at cleaning up confusion and solving disputes over land ownership and water rights in around federal lands.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis

Polis, a Boulder Democrat, is reintroducing his Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act, which passed in the House last September but never made it to a vote in the Senate, despite a bipartisan companion bill floated by Colorado Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet.

If it passes, the bill would allow the town of Minturn to access Bolts Ditch in order use existing water rights to fill Bolts Lake. Right now that’s problematic because Bolts Ditch was accidentally included in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area back in 1980.

Here’s the full press release on the various bills sponsored by Polis, Tipton and Lamborn.

Polis, Tipton, Lamborn reintroduce bills to help Colorado communities, protect public lands, and settle land disputes

  Washington, D.C. – Tuesday, Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) reintroduced several bills that strive to help Colorado communities, protect public lands, and settle longstanding land disputes. The four bills include:

  • Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act – This legislation would allow the town of Minturn to use its existing water right to fill Bolts Lake by giving the town special use of the Bolts Ditch headgate and the segment of the Bolts Ditch within the Holy Cross Wilderness Area.  When Congress designated Holy Cross Wilderness Area in 1980, Bolts Ditch was inadvertently left off the list of existing water facilities.
  • Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act – This bill would expand the Arapaho National Forest, informally known as the “Wedge,” to include ten new parcels of land, which are currently undeveloped.  The move enables the U.S. Forest Service to effectively protect and preserve an area were millions of people travel annually.
  • Elkhorn Ranch and White River National Forest Conveyance Act – This legislation would resolve a costly title dispute between the federal government and private landowners.  It would convey a small portion of land near Rifle to its property-owners who have used and paid property taxes on the acreage for years.
  • Crags, Colorado Land Exchange Act – This bill would convey 320 acres of land on the west side of Pikes Peak to the U.S. Forest Service. The Broadmoor Hotel currently owns the land, and in exchange, the government will transfer an 83-acre parcel located at Emerald Valley Ranch to the Broadmoor.

“Whether it’s helping the town of Minturn access clean and affordable drinking water, or expanding access to our beautiful wilderness, these bills will improve livelihood of our communities and environment. I’m glad that both Democrats and Republicans were able to work together for Coloradans on these commonsense, nonpartisan solutions,” Polis said.

“I am proud to work alongside my Colorado colleagues to protect our public lands and facilitate bipartisan, non-controversial land conveyances. Together, we can work to preserve Colorado’s pristine areas and cultural treasures, while ensuring state and individual property and water rights are honored.” Tipton said.

“Each of these bills will improve our communities and benefit the people of Colorado. I am pleased to have worked alongside my House colleagues, Jared Polis and Scott Tipton, to introduce these commonsense bills to resolve various land disputes and improve access to our public lands. I hope to see these four bipartisan bills enacted into law as quickly as possible.” Congressman Doug Lamborn said.

Last Congress, all four bills passed the House of Representatives, but did not make it to the U.S. Senate for a vote. Both Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced Senate companion legislation last Congress.

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