Action needed on Browns Canyon

Because our scenic Durango landscape draws visitors from across the U.S. and around the world, we genuinely appreciate the natural beauty around us. It’s why many of us call Durango home. For that reason, it’s good policy to protect this beauty. It’s good for recreation, and it’s good for our economy.

Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River is another rafting mecca. Like Durango, nearby Colorado communities benefit from visitors who are attracted to the dramatic Rocky Mountains and world-class rafting opportunities. Colorado’s whitewater industry brings an economic boost of $140 million, according to 2013 data collected by the Colorado River Outfitters Association. By far, the single largest contributor to this economic benefit to the state is rafting in Browns Canyon.

Sen. Mark Udall deserves our gratitude for introducing legislation to protect Browns Canyon as a national monument. This would protect current uses of the land – such as hunting, fishing and grazing – and would ensure it retains its natural, undeveloped character.

For the past decade, attempts have been made to pass legislation for this purpose, and we must ensure Browns Canyon gets the permanent protection it deserves as a national monument. We only need to look to our southern neighbor, New Mexico, to see how that can work.

President Obama recently responded to the local community in Las Cruces, whose leaders have worked for a decade to protect the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks area legislatively. He used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the area as a national monument. For this, the American people should be grateful, as are we. Over the years, 16 presidents (eight Republicans and eight Democrats) have used the Antiquities Act to protect publicly owned lands or water for their historic, cultural or natural resources.

Sen. Udall deserves enormous credit for his hard work to protect Browns through his forward-thinking legislation, and we encourage him to use all tools at his disposal to make sure that permanent protection happens.

Tony Miely & Andy Corra, 4Corners Riversports

Durango

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