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Statement on Signing the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993

August 13, 1993

I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 631, the "Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993." This Act designates 19 areas within the National Forests and public lands of Colorado, encompassing 612,000 acres, as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System. This Act also protects five areas, totalling some 155,000 acres, under management plans that are slightly less restrictive than wilderness designation.

Enactment of this bill ends a long debate regarding wilderness designation in the National Forests of Colorado. Key to resolving this debate is the compromise language on the protection of wilderness water resources. Because all of the areas designated as wilderness lie at the headwaters of river watersheds, wilderness water resources can be protected by restricting new diversions of water from within these areas. Existing water rights and water diversions are also protected by this Act. In short, the Colorado delegation has found an innovative solution to a very complicated water resources issue, and for this they are to be commended. However, the circumstances in Colorado are unique and this compromise language may have to be refined if it is to be used to protect wilderness water resources in other States.

By signing this bill into law today, we further the protection of unique and sensitive lands within the National Forests of Colorado. The areas designated in this Act are outstanding additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System. These areas join the 2.6 million acres of outstanding National Forest System (NFS) lands in the State that have already been designated as wilderness. At the same time, this Act releases about 115,000 acres of NFS lands in Colorado for other purposes, balancing the goal of environmental protection with the need to provide for a healthy economy.

Today, we complete the decade-long process of reviewing wilderness study areas in Colorado that were designated in earlier legislation. I commend the Colorado delegation for their diligence and bipartisan leadership in making this Act a reality. This balanced approach to wilderness designation preserves opportunities for economic development in Colorado, while maintaining the quality of life that makes Colorado such a wonderful place to live and work.


The White House, August 13, 1993.

NOTE: H.R. 631, approved August 13, was assigned Public Law No. 103-77. This statement was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on August 14.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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