Denver, CO, December 4, 2014 – The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) today announced its support for the proposed national monument designation of Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River, located in Chaffee County in Central Colorado. According to the agricultural group, the increased protection and higher profile of a national monument designation would benefit local economies, local agriculture and natural resources.
“By permanently protecting Browns Canyon as a national monument, we are protecting one of Colorado’s most precious natural resources while continuing with multiple uses, such as grazing, recreation and hunting,” said Bill Midcap, Director of External Affairs at RMFU. “The proposal to protect this beautiful place has been driven by local stakeholders and communities for more than 10 years now.”
The proposed Browns Canyon National Monument would uphold existing grazing rights, allow permit holders to pass on grazing rights to the next generation, and preserve access to stock tanks. It will not negatively impact ranchers or grazing.
Moreover, protections for the national public lands would protect the quality of the Arkansas River, which helps everyone, including agricultural producers.
Recognized as one of the most iconic and stunning landscapes in the country, Browns Canyon is national public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. In the early 1990s, nearby communities and citizens began working with local businesses, agricultural producers, sportsmen and members of Congress to protect Browns Canyon against threats from development, industrial mining, and water pollution. To protect the area, its natural resources, public access and multiple uses for the long-term, Republican and Democratic members of Congress have introduced legislation over the last decade.
Due to Congressional gridlock, these efforts have stalled. In November, Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet joined community groups in asking the President to protect Browns Canyon through use of the Antiquities Act. Since the Antiquities Act was passed by Congress in 1906, sixteen U.S. presidents, eight Republicans and eight Democrats, have used this authority to protect treasured public lands when Congress has failed to act.