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Browns Canyon Of Arkansas River National Monument Proposal Released

Posted: 03/28/2013
by Nathan Fey

Denver - Mark Udall, who chairs the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee, unveiled draft legislation today to create the Browns Canyon National Monument, covering 22,000 acres between Salida and Buena Vista in Chaffee County.  The proposal includes 10,500 acres of new wilderness and seeks to protect the most popular rafting destination in the country.  The proposal is based on a year of public input that Udall and his staff have collected since the spring of 2012.

"I am proposing a new national monument for Browns Canyon so that future generations of Coloradans can enjoy the unique mix of exciting whitewater and wilderness so close to Colorado's Front Range.  Thanks to community input, this proposal will preserve Browns Canyon, create jobs, support our economy and protect our incredible quality of life," Udall said.  "I have spent more than a year listening to stakeholders, and this balanced proposal will preserve this remarkable landscape while also drawing visitors who will boost the economy of this treasured part of Colorado."

Under Udall's proposal, the Browns Canyon National Monument will continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service in cooperation with the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.  Udall's proposal maintains existing uses, including river running, hunting and angling, grazing, and motorized access on all designated roads in the area.  The proposal also requires that the agencies develop a coordinated management plan for managing visitor use and resources.

“Senator Udall’s approach to deciding how best to protect the unique landscapes and recreational opportunities in Browns Canyon shows a strong commitment to community outreach, collaboration, and honest dialogue with various stakeholders,” said Nathan Fey, Colorado Stewardship Director at American Whitewater and liaison to Outdoor Alliance Colorado.  “We commend the Senator’s efforts, and applaud his balanced proposal to preserve our natural heritage while enhancing opportunities for public enjoyment.”

The Outdoor Industry Association reports that outdoor recreation in Colorado generates over $10 billion annually in revenues to our state economy and supports 107,000 jobs. Activities like hiking, biking, climbing, camping, whitewater rafting, and kayaking are enjoyed by nearly 4 million people each year, helping to generate $500 million in state tax revenue. People from across Colorado and the country regularly visit the region to enjoy these activities, and it is critical that Browns Canyon be protected to both ensure that the area will remain open to outdoor recreational pursuits and to preserve Colorado’s outdoor legacy for future generations.

Udall is asking stakeholders to review the proposal and give him additional input by the end of May 2013.  He will hold two public meetings on the proposal:

Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Noah's Ark Whitewater Rafting Company, 23910 U.S. Highway 285 in Nathrop; and,
Saturday, May 18, on the Front Range, time and location TBA.
Stakeholders can download a copy of the draft bill and map and submit comments HERE.  You can also contact Udall's office at 303-650-7820 to set up a meeting with staff.

Udall began a bottom-up, community-based process about whether and how to protect the Browns Canyon area in spring 2012.  Since that time, he and his staff have conducted more than 40 meetings with stakeholders including recreation groups, local officials, businesses, state and federal agencies, sportsmen groups and water providers.  He has also received more than 2,000 written comments.

Colorado Stewardship Director
Nathan Fey
1601 Longs Peak Ave.
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-859-8601