(CBS4) - The first major Colorado public lands bill in more than a decade passed out of a House committee in Congress on Wednesday. The Colorado Outdoor and Recreation Act -- also known as CORE Act -- is sponsored by Democrat Rep. Joe Neguse and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.
The bill calls for the largest new preservation of public land in a generation.
The CORE Act would protect 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, designating 73,000 of it as wilderness area and closing 200,000 acres on the Thompson Divide to oil and gas development.
"Our public lands in Colorado really define who we are as a state. Folks in Colorado understand that getting outside not only improves our health, it contributes to a higher quality of life and a booming economy that supports $9.7 billion in wages across the state," Neguse said.
Republican Rep. Scott Tipton -- whose district includes the Thompson Divide -- opposes the bill.
A press release unveiling the bill in January stated the CORE Act is supported by administrators in the Summit, Eagle, San Juan, Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison, and Pitkin counties and several cities and towns within them.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that the Garfield County commissioners wanted the Thompson Divide be included in the CORE Act. In fact, the Garfield commissioners stated in February that they wished Thompson Divide be excluded in favor of considering leases for oil and gas exploration in other areas of their county.
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