Rally to make Camp Hale a national monument

Historic photo of Camp Hale.
Courtesy picture

Colorado ski resorts could have a national monument in their backyards, relatively speaking, and supporters hope that will happen this fall.

This Saturday, Vet Voice Foundation, association leaders, elected
and 10e Mountain veterans — including a 100-year-old 10th Mountain veteran — will reunite with the public at the Colorado Snowsports Museum for a rally in support of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument Project.

“There will be many fun and interactive ways for people to raise their voices and encourage President Biden to designate this as a national monument, through tweets, postcards, social media posts, pictures with the 10e Mountain Division and Signposts,” said rally organizer Susie Kincaid.

If the area becomes a national monument, it would be “an important step” toward protecting approximately 400,000 acres of land in the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act from logging, mining and drilling , she said.

CORE is a 10-year citizens’ campaign that passed the US House of Representatives five times but stalled in the Senate. It would protect areas such as Thompson Divide, the San Juan Mountains, Continental Divide and Camp Hale as well as the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

CORE Act champions, including Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper, Rep. Neguse and Gov. Polis, are urging the Biden administration to designate the Camp Hale-Continental Divide area as a national monument through executive action.

“The ultimate goal continues to be to pass the bill through Congress and get it signed into law,” Kincaid said. “Local Colorado communities have come together to protect these places for more than a decade. These executive actions are ways to move forward now.

According to a study by the Center for Western Priorities, 86% of Coloradans support the president taking executive action by designating a new national monument to protect lands in the CORE Act, including 92% Democrats, 84% Republicans and 83% independent. investigation.

Yet opposition to the designation exists. A letter to Pre. Biden of Rep. Lauren Boebert’s office urged him to refuse to make Camp Hale a national monument.

The letter expressed “serious concern about new efforts to unilaterally impose severe land use restrictions on residents of Colorado and throughout the American West. … For years, big-city Democrats … have tried to implement massive new land grabs through Colorado’s so-called Recreation and Outdoor Economy (CORE) Act. The CORE Act land grab aims to impose increased land restrictions on nearly 400,000 acres, 73,000 of which would be designated as new wilderness and shut down many forms of outdoor recreation and multiple use, exacerbating the forest fires in the process.

The latest action to protect large areas of public land in Colorado came in the form of the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act in December 2014 and the designation of Browns Canyon National Monument in February 2015.

“Administrative action through a National Monument designation via the Antiquities Act by President Biden would permanently protect Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range, while honoring Colorado’s military heritage as the home of the Ski Troops. of the 10th Mountain Division and the vast alpine terrain where they trained,” Jim Ramey, regional director of the Wilderness Society, wrote in a press release. “Protecting this place would be a unique and powerful tribute to those who served our country in World War II and then returned to build our skiing and outdoor recreation economy.”

The Antiquities Act grants the President the power to determine the area of ​​land to be protected for historical or scientific interest.

In a letter led by Colorado State Representative Julie McCluskie to the President. Biden backed by 30 Senators and State Representatives from Colorado, she wrote, “These landscapes are simply too important for historical and cultural conservation and preservation to become the subject of fleeting political whims. …While our advocacy on behalf of the legislation and our constituents will continue, protecting these landscapes requires your immediate action. By conserving these lands, you will be preserving a rich part of this country’s history through historical monuments and objects of historical and scientific interest, and we know this will pave the way for your administration to protect future additional public lands in Colorado.

Saturday’s rally at the Snowsports Museum in Vail extends the 10e Mountain Division’s positive attitude in the current environment, according to Kincaid.

“They had this ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude, and they brought it to the ski industry, and that’s how places like Vail were carved out of a sheep pasture,” Kincaid said.

Before the rally, everyone can take part in free events, including hikes and historic tours, in a sort of choose-your-own adventure.

At 9 a.m., people can meet at 10e Mountain Division Memorial atop the Tennessee Pass where a member of the modern 10e Mountain Division will briefly talk about the healing power of nature and how it helped soldiers returning from war. Jack Breeding from 10e Mountain Living History will also talk about how Camp Hale developed.

Driving and walking tours will depart at 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. from the Camp Hale entrance. Participants will visit and learn about the camp headquarters, country house, climbing wall and shooting range.

Two hikes also start at 10 a.m.: one for families with young children and a moderate 4-mile hike to Cataract Falls, as people walk in the footsteps of the 10e Mountain troops while learning about the trail and National Monument designation. Mountain Mamas leads the Tyke Hike to the rock climbing wall the soldiers trained on, as well as to a waterfall at Camp Hale.

“It’s going to be a fun, educational and exciting day with all of these diverse events,” Kincaid said. “It’s an opportunity to be part of history. We’re about to have a national monument in Eagle County, and it’s really exciting. We hope that will happen this fall.

But, Boebert’s letter office warned Pre. Biden that “without local membership, any designation of land under the Antiquities Act will be subject to considerable controversy, as well as endless litigation. … When the Antiquities Act is used as a workaround in Congress and at the will of the American people, the land designation that accompanies it rarely receives public support.

He cited stakeholders who have formally opposed legislation containing provisions of the CORE Act, including the American Energy Alliance, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Forests Resource Council, the American Loggers Council, the National Mining Association and Colorado organizations such as the Colorado Snowmobile Association, Dolores County, Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Mesa County, Montezuma County, Alliance for Trail Preservation and more.

“While Camp Hale and our servicemen (who) were stationed there made important contributions to World War II, we do not support the efforts of extreme environmentalists…to ban the harvesting and logging of near of 30,000 acres of land,” the letter reads. “A second request made by our colleagues would permanently remove 200,000 acres of land in the Thompson Divide – an area blessed with an abundance of natural gas deposits – from energy exploration. Notwithstanding the fact that natural gas prices have reached a 14-year high, this request is a solution in search of a problem since the controversial area has already been administratively removed.

As Boebert urges the President to “allow the CORE Act to stand or fall on its own merits in Congress,” CORE supporters will continue to rally to protect the earth at Saturday’s event.

Participants in the Sept. 9 tour at Camp Hale hold up a sign in support of the area becoming a national monument.
Kimberly Nicoletti
Camp Hale country house ruins.
Courtesy picture
Historic photo of Camp Hale.
Courtesy picture

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