What is Protecting America’s Wilderness Act Plus?

If the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act sounds familiar–it’s because you’ve heard of this public lands policy package before. Last year, the outdoor community advocated hard for the first iteration of then-called PAWA, a group of six bills that promised to protect 1.3 million acres of public lands and more than 1200 river miles. Unfortunately, PAWA fell short in 2020–but now in 2021 it’s back, better, and in need of your support.

What is Protecting America’s Wilderness Act Plus? This newly introduced package now includes eight bills:

This will be the first major public lands/outdoor related vote of this new Congress, and the first vote happens in the House on Wednesday 9/24/21. It is imperative that outdoorists raise our voices on this issue to set the stage for protecting public lands and prioritizing the health of our environment during this new Congress.

Here’s two ways to take action:

  1. Tell your lawmakers to pass these public land protections using Outdoor Alliance’s FastAction tool here. Outdoor Alliance also has excellent resources and context to learn more about PAW+.
  2. Use American Alpine Club’s Phone2Action letter writing tool to write your reps here.

Why is it so important to take action right now? We’ll leave you with these words from our friends at Outdoor Alliance: “It’s incredibly important that the outdoor community shows up in force to support these efforts. Our support now not only promises to protect important outdoor landscapes, but also greases the skids for future protections. For new members of Congress especially, these early votes are a litmus test for public lands issues. Lawmakers need to hear right off the bat that their voters are enthusiastic about conservation and the outdoors – let’s make this public lands package the beginning, not the end, of what we accomplish together this Congress.”

Have any resources on PAW+ we’re missing? Send us an e-mail at team@outdooradvocacy.com. and we’ll add ’em to this post!

What is the CORE Act?

Photo by Thomas Morse on Unsplash

The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, or “CORE Act”, was designed to “protect approximately 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, establish new wilderness areas and safeguard existing outdoor recreation opportunities to boost the economy for future generations”. In an impressive case of collaborative legislation building, various counties in Colorado came together with local businesses, outdoor recreation groups, and conservationists to work together and find creative solutions, compromise, and build this bill over the last decade. 

Who are the sponsors/co-sponsors/who introduced it?

  • HR 823: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), check out the 3 cosponsors here.
  • S. 241: Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO)

Read the full legislative text here:

S. 241, HR 823 

What does this bill do for the outdoors?

According to a summary of the bill from Michael Bennett’s website, the CORE Act: 

  • Offers a balance between conservation and recreational interests 
  • Places a high value on recreation and conservation by supporting the $28.0 Billion outdoor recreation economy in Colorado as well as the 229,000 jobs associated with it
  • Unifies and improves upon four previously introduced bills: Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act, San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act, Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act, and Curecanti National Recreation Area Boundary Establishment Act
  • Protects 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado and of that newly protected land, 70,000 acres will be designated new Wilderness areas and 80,000 acres will be new recreation and conservation management areas which preserve existing outdoor uses
  • Introduces a first of its kind National Historic Landscape designation to honor and protect Colorado’s military legacy at Camp Hale
  • Prohibits new oil and gas development in areas important to outdoor recreationalists 

What’s happening now and how to take action:

Update 2021: The CORE Act has passed through the House three times, but now needs to get through the Senate. It has a hearing in the Senate in June, but what we really need right now is a Senator to champion this bill and become a sponsor.

Update 2019: The CORE Act passed largely along party lines in the House of Representatives on October 31st. While this is a big win for the Coloradoans who have been working on this bill for over a decade, the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate. It is time to write your senators and tell them that you want them to vote “YEA” in support of the CORE Act. You can find easy to use letter writing tools below:


NOTE: THIS IS A LIVING RESOURCE! As with all resources on Outdoor Advocacy Project, there is always room to continue the conversation, add a new perspective, bolster the resources, and share new findings. Got something you want to add, change, challenge or amplify? Let us know in the comments, or e-mail team@outdooradvocacy.com to write your own.

Amelia Howe
Amelia Howe

Amelia Howe is an environmental advocacy and policy professional based in Salt Lake City. She analyzes complex legislation, creating digestible summaries that inspire thoughtful engagement. Coffee and climbing fill her time when she isn’t nerding out over the latest policy news.