On Thursday, February 19, 2015, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to permanently protect Browns Canyon in Colorado, along with the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawaii and Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood, as national monuments. These national monuments will permanently protect a diversity of lands and waters that honor our country’s history and conserve open space important for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation for future generations.
The designation came in response to overwhelming input and support from the local community frustrated by years of inaction by Congress to protect the cultural and natural heritage of Dona Ana County. Support came from many voices: Native American leaders including the All Pueblo Governors Council, the New Mexico and National League of United Latin American Citizens, the New Mexico and Las Cruces Green Chambers of Commerce, local ranchers, sportsmen, faith leaders, archaeologists, historians, numerous local elected leaders and Friends Grassroots Network member Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.
Browns Canyon, located two hours from Denver, Colorado is now part of our nation’s National Conservation Lands–more than 36 million acres of our nation’s most ecologically and culturally significant public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The national monument will protect wildlife habitat and attract new generations of visitors to enjoy the hunting, fishing and whitewater rafting that define Colorado’s outdoor lifestyle. The rugged granite cliffs and backcountry provide high quality wildlife habitat for a variety of wildlife including golden eagles and peregrine falcons, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears and elk. The national monument designation was supported by hunters and anglers, businesses and conservation groups, veterans and youth groups.
The stretch of the Arkansas River that runs through Browns Canyon is an outstanding wild trout fishery as well as one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in the country. Commercial rafting on the Arkansas River which runs through Browns Canyon brings in $60 million to the local economy. The permanent protection of this area will support the economic vitality of the region, supporting local businesses, river outfitters and surrounding communities.