Colorado Sen. Mark Udall announced legislation today that would protect Browns Canyon and the ever popular fishery of the Arkansas River by creating a 22,000 acres national monument near Buena Vista.
The announcement has been a long time in coming--Udall has spent the last 18 months meeting with local residents before even introducing the bill. And while monuments have never been the most popular designation among Western residents, this one came from some of the people who care about the area most--hunters and anglers.
Perhaps it is the stellar fishery, perhaps it is the herds of elk and bighorn sheep--whatever it is, Browns has worked it's way into the hearts of sportsmen and women. And if that's not a reason to protect it, here are a few more from the Sportsmen for Browns Canyon coalition:
1. It's a fish and wildlife happy place: Low elevation, access to water, cold and clean water, undeveloped habitat. What's not to love?
2. Monuments mean money: A 2011 study of 17 recently established National Monuments found that without exception, local communities experienced economic growth following a monument’s designation. Both jobs and personal wealth increased in those areas where national monuments had been established. In no case did the creation of a national monument lead to or coincide with a downturn in the economies of adjacent communities. Enough said.
3. Tailor-made protections: Monuments are extremely flexible. For instance, this one designates some wilderness, but leaves some areas with fewer protections. It allows the public to have it all--protected spaces while maintaining uses, like fishing, hunting and rafting.
4. Which brings us to use: hunting, fishing, grazing, wood gathering, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking on designated routes, white-water rafting? I know where I'm going for summer vacation...