Wilderness Society Joins Colorado Groups Pushing to Protect Browns Canyon as National Monument; Residents Overwhelmingly Support Preserving the Area for Recreation Value and Natural Character

Dec 6, 2014
The Wilderness Society joins hundreds of businesses, recreation and conservation groups in Colorado that enthusiastically support designating Browns Canyon as a national monument.

The area proposed for protection is a 22,000-acre scenic landscape of public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and BLM along the Arkansas River in Chaffee County between Buena Vista and Salida.

A public meeting about the proposed national monument was held in Salida today, hosted by Senator Mark Udall with representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and BLM participating.  During the public comment part of the meeting, local residents expressed strong support for national monument status for Browns Canyon.   A recent survey showed that more than three out four Coloradans favor monument designation for Browns Canyon. 

Monument status for Browns Canyon would protect the existing uses of the land, including hunting, fishing and the current grazing agreements, and it would ensure that the land retains its rugged, undeveloped character.  A national monument designation would also provide the local community with the certainty that the area will be protected in its current state so businesses and residents can plan and invest in the community.

“Citizens, businesses, and elected officials from the upper Arkansas River valley and across the state were loud and clear today that Browns Canyon is a special place that deserves protection as a national monument,” said Scott Miller, Senior Regional Director of The Wilderness Society.  “Browns Canyon is a place that has inspired millions of visitors.  Protecting it as a national monument will ensure that Browns Canyon will remain as it is for present and for future generations to enjoy its whitewater, scenic beauty, and wildlife.”

Whitewater rafting and other recreation in Browns Canyon contributes significantly to Colorado’s vital outdoor recreation economy. Outdoor recreation pumps $13.2 billion in consumer spending into Colorado’s economy along with $4.2 billion in wages and salaries, 125,000 Colorado jobs and $994 million in local and state tax revenue, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

Efforts to protect Browns Canyon go back 23 years.  A bill to designate the area as a national monument remains stalled in Congress. However, The Wilderness Society favors use of Presidential authority to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument. That authority has been exercised by 16 presidents – 8 Republicans and 8 Democrats – over the past century.

The Wilderness Society is the leading wild public lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.

Contacts:  

Matt Keller, 970-422-4349, national monuments campaigns director, matt_keller@tws.org;

Scott Miller, 720-633-6063, senior director, Southwest region, scott_miller@tws.org