Biden designates Camp Hale in Colorado as his first national monument

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to reporters as he departs for Puerto Rico from the White House in Washington, U.S., October 3, 2022.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden Wednesday designated a World War II-era military site in Colorado a national monument, a move that will protect the historic area’s rare plants and wildlife from development.

Camp Hale is best known as the location used by soldiers of the US 10th Mountain Division to train in alpine warfare in the 1940s. according a White House fact sheet. Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument will protect over 50,000 acres that provide critical habitat for wildlife such as elk, lynx and songbirds.

“This action will honor our nation’s veterans, Indigenous peoples, and their heritage by protecting this Colorado landscape, while supporting jobs and the American outdoor recreation economy,” the White House said in a statement. ‘information. “The President is building on a series of steps the administration has taken to protect some of the most cherished lands and waters in the United States.”

In addition to creating the new national monument, the administration also announced a mineral removal project for Colorado’s Thompson Divide, a vast region of mountains, lakes and forests. The removal, which local officials and environmental groups have been calling for for more than a decade, would protect more than 200,000 acres from possible new mining or oil and gas drilling.

The Department of the Interior and the Forest Service will seek public comment and conduct an environmental analysis of the impacts of halting energy development in the Thompson Divide for two decades, the White House said.

Winds whip snow around Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 in Camp Hale, Colorado. Colorado’s top Democrats are calling on President Joe Biden to declare a new national monument in the heart of the state’s Rocky Mountains.

Chris Dilman | Vail every day via AP

“A coalition of hunters, ranchers, farmers, outdoor enthusiasts and community leaders have worked for decades to ensure the Thompson Divide area is protected,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. in a press release.

“Today, the Biden-Harris administration is taking an important and common-sense step to ensure we have the science and public input needed to make informed decisions about the sustainable management of public lands in the Thompson Divide area.” , Haaland said.

The White House said Biden was signing the proclamation before a stop in Vail, Colorado on Wednesday to announce the creation of the monument.

In a letter to the President in September, House Republicans led by Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert argued that designating Camp Hale as a national monument would “place severe land use restrictions” on the area that could be used for harvesting and timber exploitation.

Today’s decision comes after the president last year restored protections to Bears Ears National Monument and Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument after the Trump administration reduced those protections in 2019.

“This is a critical step to ensure that these public lands do not succumb to the same destruction as so many of our other treasured places,” Michael Freeman, senior counsel at Earthjustice, said in response to the announcement. ‘administration.

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