NWF Hails Designation of Colo.’s Chimney Rock as National Monument a Significant Milestone

Presidential proclamation establishes the southwest Colorado site as the country’s newest national monument

09-21-2012 // Judith Kohler

The designation of Colorado’s Chimney Rock as a national monument is a significant milestone for Native Americans and the communities that have sought the change, said Garrit Voggesser, the National Wildlife Federation’s National Director of Tribal Partnerships.

President Barack Obama signed a proclamation Friday to establish the southwest Colorado site as the country’s newest national monument.

The site, with the twin pinnacles of Chimney Rock and Companion Rock, has strong cultural and spiritual significance for Native Americans. It was home to ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians.  

"This is extremely significant for tribes and recognizes their historical, cultural, and spiritual connections to Chimney Rock and the surrounding region," Voggesser said. "This a great use of the Antiquities Act. It reflects that this is something everyone wants – local communities, tribes, the state, Republicans, Democrats and the administration. This is refreshing given the current gridlock in Washington."

The upgrading of the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area had bipartisan support from Colorado’s congressional delegation and wide backing from area residents, businesses and conservationists. Archaeologists have found about 90 of the more than 200 structures they believe were built near the rock spires.

"Besides Chimney Rock’s rich cultural heritage, the area is home to black bear, mountain lions, elk, mule deer and peregrine falcons," Voggesser said.

Area elected officials had joined Colorado Sen. Mike Bennet, Mark Udall and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, in urging protection for the site. A study commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation found that declaring Chimney Rock a national monument would bring an additional $1.2 million to the area, doubling its economic impact.

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