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Udall to Introduce Grassroots Legislation to Create Browns Canyon National Monument, Wilderness Area

Job-Creating, Locally Driven Proposal Incorporates Residents, Ranchers, Businesses' Ideas, Will Protect Spectacular Area for River Recreationists and Future Generations

Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mark Udall, chairman of the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee, announced today that he will introduce legislation next week to create the Browns Canyon National Monument, covering 22,000 acres between Salida and Buena Vista. This community-driven legislation, expected to support jobs in Chaffee County and throughout the region, includes 10,500 acres of new wilderness and preserves the most popular rafting destination in the country.

"Over the last 18 months I developed this bill working side-by-side with Chaffee County leaders, residents, businesses and other stakeholders. We developed this community-driven bill to ensure future generations of Coloradans can enjoy Browns Canyon's unique mix of whitewater and wilderness," Udall said. "This grassroots bill will help create jobs, strengthen Chaffee County's economy and preserve this special place for decades to come. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to protect Browns Canyon and pass this common-sense bill."

Udall unveiled draft language of his proposal earlier this year. The legislation he will introduce next week incorporates ideas derived from several public comment sessions, written correspondence and a series of meetings with local stakeholders.

Udall's bill would:

  • Preserve visitor access as it is now.
  • Protect existing legal uses as they are now, allowing fishing, hunting, livestock grazing, commercial outfitting, water supplies, mountain biking and motorized use to continue uninterrupted.
  • Maintain the ongoing, cooperative management of the area by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.

Udall's bill also contains several changes based on community feedback and the ideas raised at a series of public meetings and listening session over the past several months. For example:

  • The bill contains language that makes it clear that local ranchers can continue run livestock in the area and transfer their grazing allotments to future generations.
  • The bill also contains a boundary adjustment to clearly exclude cattle watering tanks from the national monument.
  • Udall's legislation bans commercial-scale mining for the bed and banks of the river, protecting water supplies, boaters and anglers.

Udall, a member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been a strong supporter of grassroots public lands legislation. This year alone, he has held public-comment sessions on creating the Sangre de Cristo National Historic Park in Colorado's San Luis Valley, establishing a public-private partnership to revitalize the historic Murdock Building in Kiowa County as part of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site's Visitor Center and conveying 40 acres of federal land from the U.S. Forest Service Dillon Ranger District to Summit County.

A fierce proponent of the role public lands play in supporting Colorado jobs, Udall is working to protect more than 61,000 acres of critical public lands in San Miguel, Ouray and San Juan counties under his San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act.

By: Alyssa Roberts
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