Bennet Reintroduces Bill to Designate Chimney Rock as National Monument

Bill would Provide Much-Needed Protection and Much-Deserved Recognition for Chimney Rock

Washington, DC – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today reintroduced a bill that would establish Chimney Rock Archeological area in southwest Colorado as a National Monument. A version of the bill Bennet introduced last year was approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support.

“Chimney Rock lacks a designation equal to its historically and culturally significant stature,” said Bennet.  “Local leaders, economic development officials and environmental advocates all agree: It’s time to give Chimney Rock the designation it deserves.  Working together, we will move this bill forward, providing much-needed protection – and much-deserved recognition – for Chimney Rock that will preserve this archaeological treasure for the enjoyment of generations to come.”

Chimney Rock is located West of Pagosa Springs in Colorado’s Archuleta County.  The bill would designate 4,726 acres surrounding Chimney Rock Archeological Area as a National Monument to preserve, protect, and restore the nationally significant archeological, cultural, scientific, watershed and scenic resources.  Chimney Rock will remain a unit of the San Juan National Forest, and Native American tribes will retain access to the sites for traditional and cultural uses.  

The 4,700-acre site located on San Juan National Forest land is recognized as perhaps the most significant historical site managed by the entire U.S. Forest Service. Exhibiting the features that earned Chaco Canyon (NM) a World Heritage Listing, Chimney Rock was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Between A.D. 900 and A.D. 1150, the ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians occupied the surrounding lands, and the site remains of cultural significance to many descendant tribes. Hundreds of cultural elements surround Chimney Rock’s soaring twin rock spires, including the Great House Pueblo. Every 18.6 years the moon, as seen from the Great House Pueblo, rises between the rock spires during an event known as the Northern Lunar Standstill.

Last year, Bennet testified in support of the bill in a hearing before the National Parks Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which is chaired by Senator Mark Udall, who is an original cosponsor of the bill.

The bill is endorsed by: The Pagosa Spring Chamber of Commerce, Archuleta County Commissioners, The Colorado Historical Society, Colorado Preservation Inc. and The National Trust for Historic Preservation among many others.

For a Letter of Support from The Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce, click here.

For a Letter of Support from Preservationists and Environmentalists, click here.

For a Letter of Support from the Mayor of Pagosa Springs, click here.