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3, 2013 The “Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act of 2013” is a community-driven proposal that would establish the 22,000-acre Browns Canyon National Monument and preserve this unique natural and economic resource for future generations. Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to the canyon every year to raft or fish the Arkansas River, and the rugged and remote lands to the east feature quiet canyons and rock formations, outstanding habitat for deer and elk, and sweeping views of the Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas Valley. This landscape supports thousands of jobs, from river outfitters and ranchers to the Main Street businesses of Salida and Buena Vista. Process: Over the last 18 months, U.S. Senator Mark Udall developed this bill working side-by-side with Chaffee County leaders, residents, businesses and other stakeholders. During that time, he held several public meetings, received thousands of written comments and he and his staff conducted more than 50 face-to-face meetings. He released a draft bill in March 2013, and the final bill includes several important improvements based on community input: 1. The bill bans commercial-scale mining for the bed and banks of the river, protecting water supplies, boaters and anglers. 2. It clarifies that local ranchers can continue to run livestock in the area and transfer their grazing allotments to future generations; and, 3. The legislation adjusts a boundary to exclude cattle watering tanks from the National Monument. What is in the “Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act of 2013”? · New National Monument: Designates 22,000 acres along the Arkansas River canyon as a national monument that would be jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service, in cooperation with the state of Colorado through the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA). · New Wilderness: Designates 10,500 acres of new wilderness within the national monument (8,000 acres of existing BLM Wilderness Study Area plus 2,500 acres of land managed by the U.S. Forest Service). · Ensures Public Access: Preserves visitor access to the area as it exists now. Visitors will continue to experience the new National Monument by rafting through the canyon or by driving from U.S. Highway 285 into existing recreation sites with parking, campgrounds, trails, restrooms and river access. · Protects Existing Legal Uses as They Are Now: Uses such as fishing, hunting, livestock grazing, commercial outfitting, water supplies, mountain biking, and motorized use will continue as they do now. · Ongoing Community Involvement: After designation, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service will solicit public input to help develop a detailed management plan for the area. This plan will guide the area’s management and determine what, if any, additional recreation and visitor facilities might be appropriate.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: Will this be like a National Park managed by the National Park Service? This will not be a National Park Service National Monument. Instead, the Browns Canyon National Monument will stay under the same management as it has now — the BLM, U.S. Forest Service and the AHRA (a unit of Colorado Parks and Wildlife). There are 27 other national monuments across the country that are managed by the BLM and/or the U.S. Forest Service, including two in Colorado — Canyons of the Ancients and the new Chimney Rock National Monument, both in the southwestern part of the state. What is a National Monument? A national monument is a flexible designation that encourages the public to recreate and enjoy unique natural and historic sites in the area while protecting them from over-development and large-scale resource extraction. What is a Wilderness Area? A wilderness designation means that the area will be managed as a quiet haven for recreation and wildlife. Wilderness provides the strongest level of protection available to federal lands to ensure that areas remain preserved for future generations to enjoy. Nearly all of the area in the proposed BLM component of the Browns Canyon Wilderness has been a Wilderness Study Area for more than 20 years, and the U.S. Forest Service portion has been managed as a “Tier One” (highest level) Colorado Roadless Area because of its wild and undisturbed nature. How will this impact motorized use of the area? The bill maintains motorized use in the same configuration as it is now. Most of the proposed Browns Canyon National Monument is bordered by roads, and the Turret Trail/FR184 will remain open in its current condition. What does this mean for water rights, headgates or ditches? There are no headgates or ditches in the proposed national monument. The bill makes no changes to water rights. What does this mean for grazing? Udall worked closely with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and local ranchers to add language to ensure livestock can continue to be run in the area and that grazing allotments can be transferred to the next generation. Since there are no cattle watering tanks in the proposed National Monument boundaries, their use will not be affected. These protections for ranchers ensure that we preserve this critical part of the Chaffee County economy and of our state’s agricultural heritage. Will hunting and fishing be allowed? As a strong defender of hunting, fishing, and our 2nd amendment rights, Udall is committed to maintaining these important uses of our public lands. That’s why he worked with community members and other stakeholders to make sure that monument designation does not disrupt these important uses. Hunting and fishing are allowed in both wilderness and national monuments managed by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service and these designations can provide for some of the best hunting and angling opportunities by protecting essential habitat for healthy populations of fish and game. Designation as a national monument will help ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the same hunting and angling traditions that we enjoy today.
What about mountain biking and horseback-riding? In general, pedestrians and horses are allowed anywhere in a national monument or wilderness area. Mountain bikes are allowed on designated roads and trails in BLM and U.S. Forest Service national monuments, but are not allowed in wilderness areas. Udall’s proposal does not change any of these current uses where they occur now. What impact will this have on private property or state lands? There are no private inholdings or state lands in the national monument. The proposal does not require the purchase of any private land and will not impact the valid existing rights of private landowners. Mining and recreational gold-panning? The bill prohibits commercial-scale mining from the bed and banks of the river, which protects water supplies, boaters and anglers. However, recreational gold-panning will continue to be allowed in the proposed national monument and wilderness with the appropriate permits and techniques. What about river outfitters? With some of the best whitewater in the country, commercial river outfitters are a key part of the Chaffee County economy. To protect this vital source of jobs, river use and quotas will continue as they exist now. These uses will continue to be coordinated by the AHRA, which is a partnership between the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. AHRA manages recreation resources and activities along 148 miles of the Arkansas River from its headwaters near Leadville down to the Pueblo Reservoir. What about private recreation boaters and anglers? Visitor access will continue exactly as it does now, with most users experiencing the new Browns Canyon National Monument by floating the world famous Arkansas River. River use and quotas will continue as they do now and will be managed by the Arkansas River Recreation Plan, coordinated by the AHRA. What about other commercial activities, like Elk Mountain Ranch? Commercial outfitting, such as group trail-riding, is specifically allowed in the proposed Browns Canyon National Monument.
*** For More Information visit http://markudall.senate.gov/brownscanyon
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