3:06 pm - Thursday September 26, 4154

Monumental West

ome Coloradans are asking President Obama to do something monumental.

They’re part of a group of 800 people from across the West seeking national monument status for five locations in the region. Two of them – Chimney Rock and Browns Canyon – are in Colorado, and the others are in New Mexico and Nevada.

The Monumental West campaign reports the Colorado locations require little infrastructure development, and state Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, says the designation would have a big upside.

“I think that preservation of land, quality of life, is one of the most important economic drivers we have, particularly in Colorado and in the West.”

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both D-Colo., and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., all are encouraging recognizing Chimney Rock near Durango as a national monument. Meanwhile, Browns Canyon, along the Arkansas River, is known for hunting, fishing, whitewater rafting and wildlife watching.

The Outdoor Industry Association reports that outdoor recreation contributes nearly $650 billion to the U-S economy every year. Joanne Schwartz, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado says 107,000 jobs in the state are tied to public lands and the outdoors.

“That will only increase with the designation of additional monuments in Colorado. There are a lot of families across the nation who pay attention to that star on the map for national monuments, and plan their vacations accordingly.”

Hullinghorst sees the national monument designation as perfect for places such as Browns Canyon or Chimney Rock – areas without enough acreage to become national parks, but still deserving of protection.

“It’s important to note that there are a lot of folks in Colorado and in the West who really value this kind of preservation and who understand how important it is.”

Other proposed monuments include Rio Grande del Norte and the Organ Mountains in New Mexico, and Nevada’s Tule Springs.

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