Creation of Browns Canyon National Monument fulfills longtime goal

"Browns Canyon provides important fish and wildlife habitat and some of the best whitewater rafting in the world."

Colorado's Browns Canyon, with its rugged backcountry, diverse wildlife and renowned fishing and whitewater rafting, ranks among the West’s most iconic landscapes and its establishment as a national monument means people for generations to come can enjoy it, said Bill Dvorak, a public lands organizer with the National Wildlife Federation.

Dvorak, a longtime rafting and fishing guide on the Arkansas River in Browns Canyon, was among the Coloradans on hand Tuesday during a ceremony marking President Barack Obama’s signing of a proclamation creating the 21,586-acre Browns Canyon National Monument. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Michael Bennet, former Sen. Mark Udall and former Rep. Joel Hefley were among those who asked Obama to use his executive authority to conserve Browns Canyon after legislation stalled in Congress.

"It took a lot of work by many people over more than two decades to get to this point and we’re grateful that the president responded to the overwhelming support here in Colorado and across the country for a national monument," Dvorak said. "Browns Canyon provides important fish and wildlife habitat and some of the best whitewater rafting in the world. It’s a vital part of the area economy and a gem that deserves to be conserved."

The Colorado River Outfitters Association said recreation on the Arkansas River generated nearly $56 million in economic benefits in 2013. The canyon, about 140 miles southwest of Denver, is home to mule deer, elk, black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, bighorn sheep, eagles and falcons. The rugged backcountry, marked by granite cliffs and colorful rock formations, offers hikers views of some of Colorado’s famous Fourteeners – mountains more than 14,000 feet in elevation.

Current activities, such as livestock grazing, will continue on the site that includes land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

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