Browns Canyon National Monument

Browns Canyon National Monument

Monument Details

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“Protecting this last bastion of wild country along the Arkansas River will help ensure that herds of elk and deer have high-quality winter range and anglers can pursue wily trout in a Gold Medal fishery. Browns Canyon is the gold standard for backcountry hunting and fishing grounds, and a National Monument designation will make sure it stays that way for future generations of hunters, anglers, and others,” Tim Brass, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Browns Canyon National Monument is a national treasure, preserving critical wildlife habitat and premiere trout fishing in an area that includes the most popular whitewater rafting destination in the country in Colorado’s upper Arkansas River Valley.

Located in Chaffee County near the town of Salida, Colorado, national monument provides outstanding whitewater rafting, premiere trout fishing, sweeping views of the Arkansas Valley and several of Colorado’s fourteeners as well as critical wildlife habitat.

Amidst the rugged granite cliffs, colorful rock outcroppings, and mountain vistas are a diversity of plants and wildlife, including bighorn sheep peregrine falcons, eagles and elk herds.

According to the Colorado River Outfitters Association, commercial rafting on the Arkansas River brings in roughly $60 million to the economy. The Browns Canyon National Monument designation will contribute to the economic vitality of the region, supporting local businesses, river outfitters and surrounding communities.

The national monument designation provides balanced recreational opportunities in the county by ensuring that people continue to have access to the roads, vehicle river access, mountain bike trails, ATV trails and dirt bike trials that currently exist. The national monument preserves existing grazing rights, access to hunting and fishing and outdoor recreation.

The 21,586-acre national monument is part of the National Conservation Lands and is co-managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. It was designated on February 19, 2015.

Public Input

Browns_Udall-Dvorak_dvorakexpeditionsLegislation to protect Browns Canyon had been introduced in Congress by members of both political parties for more than a decade. Since legislation was first introduced in 1991, there were 13 separate bills to preserve the lands around Browns Canyon. Yet, despite broad, bipartisan support, none of the bills passed Congress.

During the 113th session of Congress, Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) conducted an 18-month public outreach process which included public and private meetings with citizens and stakeholders, and solicited thousands of public comments prior to the introduction of the  “Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act of 2013”. This bill had a hearing in the Senate in August 2014, however it was not voted on, nor was there a companion bill in the U. S. House of Representatives.

In November 2014, Colorado’s two U.S. senators sent a letter to President Obama requesting the designation of a national monument.  There were also letters of support from the mayors of Salida and Buena Vista, as well as the state Senators and Representatives.

Support for a presidential designation also came for businesses, sportsmen, and outfitting organizations including Colorado and Arkansas Rivers Outfitters Associations, Trout Unlimited, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Wildlife Federation, the International Mountain Biking Association, and the Hispanic Access Foundation, Chaffee County Visitors Bureau and Salida Business Alliance.

In December 2014, Governor John Hickenlooper joined Senator Michael Bennet to again ask President Obama to use the Antiquities Act to protect the invaluable economic and natural resource for Chaffee County and the State. On December 6, 2014, hundreds of Coloradans turned out to support a Browns Canyon National Monument designation during a public meeting.

“As a retired Air Force Officer, outdoor business owner and dedicated backcountry enthusiast, I’ve long felt that Browns Canyon is one area that’s clearly worth protecting. Whether you’re casting on the gold medal waters of the Arkansas during the Caddis hatch, or hiking the rugged ridges in pursuit of mule deer, it is landscapes like Browns Canyon that I’ve fought for and more than anything, it’s an area that I am glad to be able to pass down to my kids,” Eric Lynn, owner of Mountain Ridge Gear in Payton, CO