Make Camp Hale a monument now
For years, local elected officials like ourselves — as well as local business owners, hunters and anglers, ranchers, farmers, veterans and other community members in Colorado — have been working to protect our lands and natural resources within the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act.
This legislation would protect more than 400,000 acres of natural areas across the state, including the Thompson Divide, the San Juan Mountains, the Continental Divide, Camp Hale and the Curecanti National Recreation Area.
These lands are invaluable to our communities and constituents because they are integral to our livelihoods and local economies, a part of our history, a leading contributor to our quality of life and key to the health and preservation of our climate.
Though the CORE Act has cleared the U.S. House of Representatives five times, the Senate has not been able to come to an agreement on it. And, while we still strongly support the CORE Act and urge our federal delegation to pass this piece of legislation, it is time for administrative action to advance our nation’s conservation objectives and give these special areas the protections they deserve.
We stand with U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, Gov. Jared Polis and a huge majority of Coloradans in asking Pres. Joe Biden to use his presidential authority to swiftly protect Colorado’s public lands under the CORE Act.
This includes protection of the Thompson Divide from new oil and gas leasing and mining through a Federal Lands Policy and Management Act mineral withdrawal. Our constituents, including farmers and ranchers, have come together to safeguard this incredible place, to protect critical wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, grazing lands and clean water. We also support the use of administrative tools to provide new protections for areas within the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests that would be protected under the CORE Act.
We call on Biden to invoke his executive power through the Antiquities Act to designate the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, to honor World War II veterans, protect wildlife habitat and support our state’s outdoor recreation economy. This administrative action would permanently protect Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range and honor Colorado’s military legacy during World War II.
The proposed Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument is an important part of Colorado and national history.
Camp Hale, located in the Eagle River Valley, was a U.S. Army training facility where the 10th Mountain Division prepared for war, after which many of those veterans came home to Colorado to build our state’s thriving ski and outdoor recreation economy.
A monument designation would not only protect natural landscapes — the preservation of which protects biodiversity and helps fight climate change — but also pay tribute to the veterans who served our country.
We applaud our Colorado leaders for appealing to the Biden administration for these protections, and for reiterating their commitment to passing the CORE Act. We stand behind these efforts to achieve permanent protections for these areas, first administratively and ultimately through the CORE Act legislation.
According to Colorado College’s 2022 State of the Rockies poll, 86% of Coloradans support the president designating more national monuments. And when Congress fails to act, it’s a necessary step to protect our treasured lands and heritage.
We support the designation of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument and will continue to advocate for permanent protections through the CORE Act to preserve our history, environment, and local economies.
Greg Poschman is a Pitkin County commissioner, and Kathy Chandler-Henry is an Eagle County commissioner. Both are contributors to Western Leaders Voices, a program of Western Leaders Network that helps amplify the voices of tribal, local, and state elected leaders on conservation issues in the West.