Rep. Salazar floats wilderness plan, reaches out to conservationists

Rep. John Salazar looks to be offering an olive branch to environmentalists in his 3rd Congressional District on Colorado’s Western Slope, releasing a draft plan Monday to protect more than 63,000 acres of wilderness.

The brother of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been drawing environmentalist ire of late and raising raising questions likely to frame the 2010 campaign by voting no on the American Clean Energy and Security Act and by not backing fellow Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette’s hydraulic fracturing bill aimed at the natural gas industry.

Salazar is now taking comments on his proposal to designate 63,475 acres of federal land in San Miguel, Ouray and San Juan counties as wilderness, meaning the area would be protected from off-road vehicles, road building of any kind and any sort of development, including energy production and logging.

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