The US Forest Service introduced the Travel Management Plan for the Hermosa area. At the time, the plan included closing Hermosa Creek Trail and part of the Colorado Trail to bikes through a Wilderness designation.
The Hermosa Creek sub-workgroup met from 2008-2010. The collaborative, community process, which operated on consensus, involved many citizens and organizations in discussions about the human and natural values in the Hermosa Creek watershed. It was a group represented by many points of view, including water users, recreational users, state agencies, the Southern Ute tribe, conservation organizations, and US Congressional representatives.
After almost two years of work, the Hermosa Creek Workgroup arrived at a set of recommendations. Central to their work was recommending that special federal legislation be developed, introduced, and passed. Their final report and recommendations were forwarded to the US Congress in 2010.
After several years of drafts, working through committees, and changes in Congressional representatives, the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection legislation was finally signed into law on December 19, 2014, as Section 3062 in the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2015 (PL 113-291).
The legislation divided the watershed into a Special Management Area (SMA) and a wilderness area. Within the SMA, the legislation also delineates the East Hermosa Roadless Area (which was already a designated Colorado Roadless Area before the legislation).
The legislation states that: “The purpose of the Special Management Area is to conserve and protect for the benefit of present and future generations the watershed, geological, cultural, natural, scientific, recreational, wildlife, riparian, historical, educational, and scenic resources of the Special Management Area.”