The Obama Administration announced Wednesday that it will designate Colorado’s Browns Canyon as a national monument, nonprofits announced. The move to designate the 21,000 acres in Central Colorado was cheered by environmentalists, veterans and sportsmen.
Obama is expected to formally announce the designation this week in Chicago. He will also name two other national monuments –Chicago’s historic Pullman town and a Hawaii Japanese-American World War II-era internment camp.
The Brown’s Canyon designation received a chilly reception by two Republican Congressmen, Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck. A nonpartisan group, the Center for Western Priorities, said the two politicians “wildly misfired” with their criticism and distorted the facts.
Wednesday morning, the Denver Post reported news of the President’s plan this week to name Brown’s Canyon a national monument. Last year, two Colorado Democrats made a failed effort that stalled on its way through Congress. U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and then-U.S. Sen. Mark made the attempt.
Bennet and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper urged Obama to take an executive action under the Antiquities Act, which gives the president broad power to set aside federal land for protection, the Post reported.
Members of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups had sought protection for Brown’s Canyon for 20 years. Sierra Club National president David Scott called Brown’s Canyon a wonderful addition to the nation’s conservation legacy. “We applaud President Obama for using his authority to protect this national treasure,” Scott said. “The unique combination of water, wild landscape and lower elevation ridges at Browns Canyon provide four-season opportunities for people to get outside, as well as important wildlife habitat.”
The Facebook page of Sportsman for Browns Canyon posted a story from Angling Trade. It reflected the support of the designation by anglers, rafters, hunters and hikers.
The Denver office of the Vet Voice Foundation thanked Obama for the action. Garett Reppenhagen, Rocky Mountain Veteran Voice Coordinator, said, “Spending time in Brown’s Canyon and other public lands was a critical part of my transition back to civilian life after the stress of serving in Iraq.”
Two of the state’s seven U.S. Representatives were critical. The Post said Buck called on Obama to “cut it out. He is not king.” Lamborn said he was outraged, and called it a “top-down, big government land grab.”
Jessica Goad, advocacy director for the Center for Western Priorities, called the politicians’ remarks “hypocritical, offensive and out-of-touch with Coloradans.”