Behar: Next up for new monument

We can all be grateful for Pres. Biden’s designation of the Camp Hale/Continental Divide National Monument. Protecting roughly 54,000 acres for posterity is important for our pressured public lands, wildlife habitats, and watersheds. 

Now, we must turn our attention to helping the U.S. Forest Service create a management plan that restores land where the troops trained and protects it from damaging behavior. Proper funding will help upgrade the eroded interpretive signs, repair roads, maintain trails, and safeguard artifacts.

Wildlife habitat and migration corridors within the monument should be prioritized, so our wildlife populations remain healthy and thriving. We all benefit when all of nature’s inhabitants are provided healthy habitats upon which we also inescapably depend. 

Veterans’ groups need a voice in the planning, so that the monument continues to honor those in the 10th Mountain Division who fought bravely during World War II. 

The native Ute tribes must be welcomed to participate in the planning and use of their historic home range. We can all benefit from the wisdom they have from centuries of caring for these spectacular landscapes. The native people, who have lived in harmony with these natural resources throughout history, can offer us great knowledge and insight and must have a seat at the table to share their cultural intelligence and perspective. 

The president also gave a two-year reprieve to the Thompson Divide area from further oil and gas leasing. This offers a small window to work toward prohibiting all new oil and gas leases into the future. I look forward to having this momentary pause expanded to longer and more permanent protection of this vulnerable natural resource.

Thank you to Wilderness Workshop and all the many environmental groups, citizens, and elected officials, including Biden, Gov. Polis, Sen. Bennet, county commissioners, and all who helped bring about the creation of the national monument. 

Ted A. Behar