Earlier this week a portion of the upper Arkansas River Valley became one of the newest national monuments in America. Along with Pullman National Monument and Honouliuli National Monument, the Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado was introduced as the three newest national monuments yesterday.
Browns Canyon National Monument will protect a stunning section of Colorado’s upper Arkansas River Valley. Located in Chaffee County near the town of Salida, Colorado, the 21,586-acre monument features rugged granite cliffs, colorful rock outcroppings, and mountain vistas that are home to a diversity of plants and wildlife, including bighorn sheep and golden eagles. Members of Congress, local elected officials, conservation advocates, and community members have worked for more than a decade to protect the area, which hosts world-class recreational opportunities that attract visitors from around the globe for hiking, whitewater rafting, hunting and fishing.
"Browns Canyon is a unique area with a rich cultural and recreational legacy. These lands have provided a home for people for 10,000 years, and the cultural and historical resources protected by this monument honor the area's Native Peoples. It is also a working landscape where ranchers have worked for generations," said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "I am proud that we are conserving and managing landscapes that support important resources and support local economies, especially rural mountain communities."
The proclamation allows for continued historic uses of the area, including hunting, fishing, and livestock grazing, which will continue to be managed under existing rules and regulations. The designation does not alter or affect the valid water rights of any party and does not affect agreements governing management of the Arkansas River flows. It supports the ongoing cooperative management of the Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area by the BLM and the State of Colorado and preserves existing agreements for recreation uses and access.
Browns Canyon harbors a wealth of scientifically significant geological, ecological, cultural, and historical resources, and is an important area for studies of paleoecology, mineralogy, archaeology, and climate change. The area's unusual geology and roughly 3,000-foot range in elevation have given rise to a diversity of plants and wildlife, including a significant herd of bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine.
The national monument designation will protect the outstanding opportunities to recreate, including hiking, hunting, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing and rock climbing, as well as to experience the solitude and undeveloped beauty of this rugged landscape.
Browns Canyon is one of the most popular destinations in the nation for whitewater enthusiasts, totaling more than 90,000 user-days annually, according to the BLM. Commercial rafting on the Arkansas River contributes roughly $60 million to the local economy, according to the Colorado River Outfitters Association.
In addition to Browns Canyon, Colorado is home to seven other national monuments:
• Colorado National Monument
• Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
• Chimney Rock National Monument
• Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
• Dinosaur National Monument
• Hovenweep National Monument
• Yucca House National Monument
For more information on Browns Canyon, please click here.