Dec 3, 2013 11:03 PM by Jennifer Horbelt

Lawmaker plans to turns Browns Canyon into national monument

CHAFFEE COUNTY, CO- A Colorado lawmaker plans to introduce legislation to turn Browns Canyon into a national monument, creating jobs and preserving the area.

Mark Udall, chairman of the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee, announced Tuesday that he will introduce legislation next week to create the Browns Canyon National Monument, covering 22,000 acres between Salida and Buena Vista.

This legislation is expected to support jobs in Chaffee County and throughout the region. It 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 says his bill would do the following:

-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 he says are based on community feedback, and the ideas raised at a series of public meetings and listening session over the past several months.



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