Monumental West campaign seeks protection for Browns Canyon and Chimney Rock


Monumental West delivery
Left to right: ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin, Colorado Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, and naturalist Aron Ralston deliver signatures to the Organizing for America offices in Denver. Click here for a high resolution photo. Photo credit: Emily Andrews, ProgressNow Colorado

DENVER, CO – ProgressNow Colorado and allies in the Monumental West campaign today presented President Barack Obama’s campaign field office in Denver with hundreds of Colorado signatures to a letter requesting he support the protection of Browns Canyon and Chimney Rock. The great majority of the signatories were campaign volunteers in 2008.

“Coloradans value these areas as economic drivers for the region and also sacred areas to explore nature and archaeology and to preserve for future generations,” said Colorado State Representative Dickey Lee Hullinghorst. “In Colorado, more than 107,000 jobs depend on public lands and 97 percent of Coloradans believe public lands are essential to our way of life.”

“Browns Canyon is a spectacular recreational and natural area which provides outstanding fish and wildlife habitat as well as four-season opportunities for people to explore the outdoors and experience the area’s scenery and solitude,” said Joanne Kron, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado. “Browns Canyon is also one of Colorado and America’s favorite whitewater rafting destinations. It’s a national treasure that  deserves to be permanently protected to both ensure that the area will remain open to hunting, fishing, and rafting and to preserve Colorado’s outdoor legacy for future generations.”

Chimney Rock is a San Juan National Forest Archaeological Area located in Colorado between Durango and Pagosa Springs and managed for archaeological protection, public interpretation, and education. Chimney Rock is related to other major archaeological attractions in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico, including Chaco Canyon National Historical Park, Aztec Ruins National Monument, and Mesa Verde National Park.

“These sites attract visitors from all over the nation and the world. With the added visibility that national monument status would bring, Chimney Rock would increase heritage tourism in Archuleta County and in the Four Corners region,” Kron said. Chimney Rock has incredible historical and cultural significance. Yet the site lacks a designation equal to that stature. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall and Representative Scott Tipton have introduced legislation to provide much-needed protection, and much-deserved recognition, for the site. Passage of this bill will also provide increased tourism and economic development in southwest Colorado.

“Put simply, a National Monument designation is warranted for Chimney Rock and that new designation will drive economic development and job creation throughout the region,” Kron said.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation contributes $730 billion to the U.S. economy every year and employs 1 in every 20 Americans. Protecting new parks and monuments would support continued economic growth and new jobs in rural western communities.

“Voters agree, in a recent bipartisan poll, nearly 8 in 10 Westerners said we can protect our land and water and have a strong economy and good jobs,” added, naturalist Aron Ralston.  “The time to act is now. The West is counting on you, President Obama.”