Letter to Biden from Bennet, Hickenlooper, Polis and Neguse urges ‘Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument’ creation
New effort follows years of work to create new national historic landscape designation
U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, along with Gov. Jared Polis and Rep. Joe Neguse, sent a letter to President Biden on Friday, urging the president to create a new national monument at Camp Hale.
National monuments can be created by presidential decree as a result of the Antiquities Act of 1906, and national parks such as Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion and Olympic were first created as national monuments. In 2015, President Obama created the Browns Canyon National Monument in nearby Chaffee County.
The proposed Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument would create a national monument in Eagle County at Camp Hale and Summit County in the Tenmile Range.
The effort to see the area designated as a national monument follows years of effort to see Camp Hale included in the CORE Act as a new federal land designation known as a national historic landscape.
In July, Bennet received a letter from elected officials on the Western Slope, including Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry, urging the senator to “pursue every available opportunity, legislative and administrative” to create the new Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument through the Antiquities Act.
“This new monument will honor the service of our veterans from the 10th Mountain Division who trained at Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range, served our nation with distinction in World War II and returned home to help found Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy,” the letter said.
A few weeks later, Bennet, Hickenlooper, Neguse and Polis hosted U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at Camp Hale to make Chandler-Henry’s appeal to the Biden appointee.
The letter sent to Biden on Friday references the meeting.
“We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s recent visit to Colorado to see Camp Hale,” the letter reads. “Based on the overwhelming support expressed at the meeting and throughout the years from local elected leaders, conservation stakeholders, sportsmen, ranchers, business leaders, veterans and the 10th Mountain Division Foundation it is clear that Coloradans across the state support the conservation and preservation of these landscapes for future generations.”
The letter calls Camp Hale an “ideal candidate” for a national monument.
“Specifically, we urge your action under the Antiquities Act to designate Colorado’s Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range as the Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument,” the letter reads. “The history of this area, including the role that it played in preparing the 10th Mountain Division for some of the most difficult moments of World War II, makes it the ideal candidate for a national monument designation.”
Complete letter text below:
Dear Mr. President:
For more than a decade, we have worked to advance legislation – known as the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act – that will bring permanent protections to over 400,000 acres of vital public lands in Colorado. This legislation has been built from the ground up with years of dedicated stakeholder engagement and enjoys bipartisan support. Regrettably, progress in Congress has stalled despite strong support in Colorado. The time has come to take the next step in protecting the key landscapes within the CORE Act and we need your help.
We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s recent visit to Colorado to see Camp Hale. Based on the overwhelming support expressed at the meeting and throughout the years from local elected leaders, conservation stakeholders, sportsmen, ranchers, business leaders, veterans and the 10th Mountain Division Foundation it is clear that Coloradans across the state support the conservation and preservation of these landscapes for future generations. We strongly urge you to use your Presidential authorities to swiftly protect Colorado’s public lands within the CORE Act.
Specifically, we urge your action under the Antiquities Act to designate Colorado’s Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range as the Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument. The history of this area, including the role that it played in preparing the 10th Mountain Division for some of the most difficult moments of World War II, makes it the ideal candidate for a national monument designation. Many of the veterans of the 10th Mountain Division returned to Colorado after the war to establish our state’s outdoor recreation economy by starting the ski areas that Colorado is known for, further establishing the role Camp Hale and its veterans have played for our state and nation.
We also request the protection of Colorado’s Thompson Divide through a Federal Lands Policy and Management Act mineral withdrawal. This action would ban new oil and gas leasing, as well as mining, on a landscape where community members, including farmers and ranchers, have come together to request protection. We also ask that you bring new protections to the areas of the CORE Act proposed for wilderness designation, mineral withdrawal and special management areas on the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests by using the upcoming U.S. Forest Service plan revisions or other administrative tools. Appending this correspondence is a letter requesting specific protections of landscapes under the CORE Act from seven Colorado County Commissioners who have been key leaders of this legislation.
By taking these steps, you will be making sure that even more of Colorado’s open spaces will be preserved for future generations. We will continue our fight to pass the CORE Act to deliver permanent conservation for the areas featured in the legislation but ask for your help in the interim to offer administrative protections modeled after the bill.
We are grateful for your attention to this request and look forward to working with you to take action to safeguard some of our nation’s finest public lands.
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