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President Biden to travel to Colorado, designate Camp Hale as national monument

Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper among those who called for designation again in August
Bennet, Polis introduce legislation to protect, create public lands along Continental Divide
Posted at 8:28 AM, Oct 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-07 10:28:37-04

DENVER — President Joe Biden will travel to Colorado next week to designate Camp Hale as a national monument, according to a person familiar with the matter – something Colorado’s U.S. senators have been pushing for.

The White House confirmed Thursday that Biden would travel to Colorado next Wednesday, Oct. 12, but did not release other details about his trip here.

The Los Angeles Times, and subsequently The Colorado Sun, first reported, citing people familiar with the trip, that Biden would be appearing with Sen. Michael Bennet, the Democrat who is up for re-election and who has led the national monument push, to designate Camp Hale as a national monument.

A person familiar with the plans confirmed to Denver7 Thursday afternoon that Biden would be designating Camp Hale as a national monument alongside Bennet.

Bennet, along with Sen. John Hickenlooper, Rep. Joe Neguse, and Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter to Biden in August, on the heels of a visit to Camp Hale involving Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, calling on the president to use the Antiquities Act to designate the high-mountain camp near Leadville which was used to train the 10th Mountain Division for World War II as a national monument.

The group was calling on Biden to implement facets of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act (CORE Act), which included the Camp Hale designation. They also called for the national monument to include the Tenmile Range in what would be called the Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument.

The bill has already passed the U.S. House on several occasions – in October 2019, again in 2020 and 2021 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, and again in February 2021 as part of a public lands package.

But it has languished in the Senate, most recently failing to get a favorable report out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in May.

In the letter, the group said the role Camp Hale played in preparing soldiers for mountainous battle during the war “makes it the ideal candidate for a national monument designation.”

Camp Hale would be the first national monument President Biden has designated, though he has expanded others, and agreed with Colorado members of Congress that Amache should be designated as a National Historic Site earlier this year.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was in Colorado Wednesday to expand the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic site by around 3,500 acres, and was in the San Luis Valley Thursday to transfer more than 9,000 acres of land from a preserve to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

“By taking these steps, you will be making sure that even more of Colorado’s open spaces will be preserved for future generations,” the Colorado group wrote to Biden in August.

The Center for Western Priorities said it applauded the move and would like Biden to add more Western national monuments.

“This is great news for Coloradans and military veterans, who called on President Biden to protect this important historical site and the landscape surrounding it,” said Jennifer Rokala, the executive director of the Center for Western Priorities.” It’s a welcome sign that the president is listening to Westerners who want to see public lands and landmarks protected for future generations.”