How now, Browns Canyon

 

U.S. Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, got two differing views about Browns Canyon when he met with constituents and hiked in the area during the congressional Easter recess.
 
The meetings were in Chaffee County in central Colorado. The Arkansas River flows through Browns Canyon, which sits between Salida and Buena Vista. It may well be the most popular whitewater rafting course in America.
 
Udall was soliciting input on two separate but related proposals. One is to designate the canyon and some surrounding land a national monument, and the other is to designate wilderness on the east side, from the railroad tracks that parallel the river up to the ridge that separates Chaffee and Park counties.
 
Although most national monuments are created by presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act of 1906 (which allows the president to set aside federal land), some have been created by Congress, and Udall said he would prefer to go that route.
 
Congress is unlikely to pass it, though, without the approval of the relevant congressman, and Browns Canyon sits in the district of Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican who's yet to display any public interest in protecting Browns Canyon. "But Lamborn had said he's willing to talk about it," Udall said. Speaking in generalities, the local business community, heavily dependent on tourism, supports monument designation. "A national monument is a star on the map, and that attracts people," said John Engelbrecht, executive director of the Salida Chamber of Commerce. River outfitters like the idea of floating through a national monument.
 
 On the other hand, there are those who worry that they'll lose motorized access to the land east of the river, as well as the bizarre complaint at Udall's second meeting that "this is a federal land grab," even though all the land in question is already owned by the federal government. And even with wilderness designation, grazing and hunting would still be allowed.
 
Udall said he'd prefer to leave management as it is, with the Forest Service and the BLM in charge, rather than the National Park Service, which administers most national monuments. One complication, though, is that river traffic is managed by Colorado State Parks as part of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.
 
It might be simpler to turn it all over to the National Park Service than to figure out who's in charge of what. Then again, I can already hear the local right-thinkers complain about more federal bureaucrats, even if they do turn out to be good for business.

For Ed Quillen's previous coverage of the Brown's Canyon issue, see this post.

Essays in the Range blog are not written by High Country News. The authors are solely responsible for the content.

Ed Quillen writes from Salida, Colo.

High Country News Classifieds
  • GENERAL MANAGER
    The Board of UYWCD seeks a new GM to manage operations & to implement our robust strategic plan. Details at www.upperyampawater.com. EOE
  • IN TUCSON, FOR SALE: A BEAUTIFUL, CLASSIC MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME
    designed by architect David Swanson in 1966. Located a block from Saguaro National Forest, yet minutes to Downtown and the UofA campus, 3706 sqft, 6...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of the San Juans is seeking a new leader guide our efforts to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish...
  • 80 ACRES
    straddles North Platte Fishery, Wyoming. Legal access 2 miles off 1-80. Call 720-440-7633.
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • OWN A THRIVING MOUNTAIN GUIDE SERVICE.
    Eastern Sierra guide service for sale to person with vision & expertise to take it onwards. Since 1995 with USFS & NPS permits. Ideal for...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...