NewsCovering Colorado


Lobbying President Biden to designate Camp Hale, Colorado a National Monument

During WWII the 10th Mountain Division used the location as a training site
Camp Hale
Posted at 1:20 PM, Sep 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 08:13:55-04

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado — “My God man, you’ve got to protect this place,” said 10th Mountain Division veteran Francis Lovett.

At age 100, Lovett is calling on President Biden to designate the location of Camp Hale in Colorado as a National Monument.

Colorado has a unique tie to World War II history through the 10th Mountain Division. The specialized alpine combat team trained at the former Camp Hale in the mountains north of Leadville, Colorado.

Lovett came to Camp Hale as a 20-year-old, “It was 1943, I’m now 100, You do the arithmetic.”

Acceptance to the division required a high level of athletic ability in alpine settings. Soldiers had to apply.

Lovett said, “Three people who can attest to either his skill as a skier, a climber, or extensive outdoor living.”

He recalls how the Camp Hale experience challenged, and at times humbled, soldiers. “There's something about being part of these natural surroundings. That just makes you better if you survived it, because it's not kind always, but it's always appreciated. Soldiers trained during some harsh Colorado winter conditions."

80 years later, there are only a few remnants of the Camp Hale structures. Recreational climbers work their way up cliffs where the soldiers trained.

There are occasional tours guided by historians and there is concern this could all be lost to time.

“People keep saying well, we won’t worry about it right now. It’ll settle itself out,” said Lovett, “It won’t. You gotta save it.”

The 10th Mountain Division Foundation, Veteran lobbying groups like Vet Voice Foundation, and Colorado political leaders want Camp Hale preserved as a National Monument.

Janessa Goldbeck, the CEO of Vet Voice, said research shows the efforts are also supported by most Colorado residents, “Polling that over 85% of all Coloradans want this to happen.”

"We know about D-Day, we know about Normandy, we know all of those pieces, and we elevate those pieces and honor those pieces. The fact of the matter is, this is an essential part of the story of World War II as well,” said 10th Mountain Division Foundation, President, Nancy Kramer.

Previous attempts to protect Camp Hale included the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act commonly called the CORE Act.

It has stalled multiple times in Congress. Some think it is because it includes so many elements it is hard to get an agreement. For example, it designates multiple other areas of Colorado as wilderness.

“There is a way to protect at least part of hits land through unilateral action via the President and the Antiquities Act,” said Goldbeck.

A new approach narrows the ask to mostly Camp Hale and another area where the 10th Mountain Division trained. Congress is taken out of the equation with an approach that allows President Biden to make an executive order.

“We have built solid support and are unified on supporting this mechanism. It works,” said Kramer.

At 100, Lovett is direct with his opinion, “The message I send to President Biden is to pay attention to the petition that comes in, pay attention to your Senators pleadings, pay attention to the little voice I added from somebody who was there and protect part of your heritage, President Biden because the little I did, has made it possible for you to be where you are.”

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