Veterans Urge Inclusion of CORE Act into Defense Bill

December 6, 2021

The Honorable Michael Bennet
261 Russell Senate Building
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable John Hickenlooper
374 Russell Senate Office Building
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Joe Neguse
1419 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515


Dear Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper, and Representative Neguse:

We, the undersigned organizations, write on behalf of America’s veterans who stand to gain much-deserved recognition and important benefits in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) now being considered in Congress. In addition to ensuring our country is safe and secure, the NDAA includes the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act, a 400,000-acre public lands protection initiative that is Colorado-born, fully vetted, widely supported, and has been passed in the House four times.

You can view the letter below.

The CORE Act combines four community-generated proposals that will protect Colorado’s public lands including establishing the nation’s first National Historic Landscape at Camp Hale, where the famed 10th Mountain Division trained during WWII. Coloradans have been working to preserve these areas for more than a decade and have gained the support of veterans, sportsmen and sportswomen, the outdoor recreation industry, ranchers, and local governments from across the state.

The areas in the CORE Act — ranging from wilderness and recreation areas, to the Thompson divide prized by hunters — provide a place for veterans to heal and regain their footing as they transition home from fighting for our freedoms abroad. That’s why the CORE Act is supported by numerous veteran’s organizations that use public lands and rivers for therapeutic programs.

In addition to ensuring safe spaces exist for veterans, the public lands included in the CORE Act would mitigate against the worst impacts of climate change, something that the Secretary of Defense highlighted in the Defense Department Climate Risk Analysis, which concluded that climate change has “significant implications for U.S. national security and defense.” Public lands and waters are on the front lines of defense for communities by providing healthy air, clean drinking water, and sequestering carbon.

Passing the CORE Act would boost surrounding Colorado economies. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, outdoor recreation contributes $62 billion annually to Colorado’s economy. This keeps rural and mountain economies healthy and resilient, another stabilizing factor in combating climate change cited in the Defense Department’s strategy.

Camp Hale is a legacy well worth protecting. The brave WWII soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division who trained at Camp Hale and fought courageously to break the German “Wall” in northern Italy left a remarkable legacy. When they returned home after the war, many of them played significant roles in creating and building Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry into what it is today. From founding ski areas to innovating mountaineering clothing and equipment, the 10th Mountain veterans have left their indelible mark on the industry. Time is running out to honor the few 10th Mountain veterans from WWII who are still with us. It’s time to acknowledge them and their contributions by preserving Camp Hale as our country’s first National Historic Landscape.

Thank you for your efforts to champion this legislation and advocate for its passage at every opportunity. We urge you to ensure that the CORE Act is included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act.


Ricki Sherlin
Regent, 10th Mtn Chapter
Daughters of the American Revolution
[email protected]

Paul Anderson
Founder, Executive Director
Huts for Vets
[email protected]

Heather Ehle
Founder, CEO
Project Sanctuary
[email protected]

Gardner Flanigan
Executive Director
[email protected]

Joe Mornini
Co-founder, Executive Director
Team River Runner
[email protected]

Mary Kaszynski
Director of Government Relations
Vet Voice Foundation
[email protected]

Nick Watson
Founder, Executive Director
Veterans Expeditions
[email protected]

Fredrick Solheim
Founder, Director
Warriors on Cataract
[email protected]

Pat Hammon, RN (Ret.)
Eagle County Veteran Services
[email protected]


The Honorable Jack Reed
Chair, Senate Committee on Armed Services

The Honorable James Inhofe
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Armed Services

The Honorable Joseph Manchin III
Chair, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

The Honorable John Barrasso
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

The Honorable Adam Smith
Chair, House Committee on Armed Services

The Honorable Mike Rogers
Ranking Member, House Committee on Armed Services

The Honorable Raul Grijalva
Chair, House Committee on Natural Resources

The Honorable Bruce Westerman
Ranking Member, House Committee on Natural Resources