Proponents of a Browns Canyon sport green stickers to demonstrate their support during a public meeting in Salida, Colorado.
Hundreds of people showed up to a public meeting with federal officials in Salida, Colorado, to voice their support for protecting Browns Canyon, an area in southern Colorado well known for its whitewater rafting, fishing and outdoor recreation.
Colorado senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett invited top White House officials to the meeting. US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwel and BLM Director Steve Ellis were among those on the panel to hear whether Coloradans support designating Browns Canyon as a national monument. For many, this meeting was seen as the final push to establish a national monument in Browns Canyon.
Video: Before the meeting, we asked attendees why they think it’s important to protect Browns Canyon. Here’s what they had to say:
There has been strong community support for protecting Browns Canyon over the past two decades, but years of congressional inaction has finally brought the issue into the hands of President Obama.
Senators Udall and Bennett have formally urged the president to use his authority to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument. This would be 14th time he has designated a national monument under the Antiquities Act.
From left to right: US Forest Service Cheif Tom Tidwell, Colorado Senator Mark Udall and Deputy Director of BLM Steve Ellis during the public meeting in Salida. Photo by Kyle Perkins.
Browns Canyon creates more than $55 million per year in economic activity for the local economy, and a recent poll conducted by Conservation Colorado shows that 77 percent of Coloradans support protecting it as a national monument. An estimated 700 people packed into the meeting space and overflowed out into an additional room, with a vast majority in support of designation.
“It was a true showing of the local community and the support we have to protect Browns,” said local resident Susan Mayfield. “It was a large theater of about 400, and an overfill room of many more in support of finally and permanently protecting one of our local pride and joys. The people in Chaffee County have spoken. It’s time.”