A two-decade effort to permanently protect Colorado’s Browns Canyon now appears within reach as the Obama administration is poised to designate the 22,000-acre area on the Arkansas River as a national monument.
One of the last choreographed steps in the national monument dance took place over the weekend, with senior public lands managers from the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management attending a packed public meeting in Salida, Colorado. About 500 people jammed the SteamPlant Theater, most of them expressing strong support for a monument designation that would permanently protect one of the West’s premier white water rafting and trout fishing areas, and a place where outdoor recreation is a powerful economic driver in the regional economy of south-central Colorado.
Bill Dvorak, the head of a local citizens group that has advocated for permanent protection of the area, told the Denver Post he was confident the finish line is in sight. “I think we’re about 90 percent there,” said Dvorak. “I’m hoping that we’ve finally pushed this thing through. It certainly deserves to have that protection after all these years and all the support we’ve generated. I’m pretty dang confident right now.”
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