Bennet Joins Effort to Preserve Browns Canyon as National Monument

Recent study shows rafting in the region brings millions into the economy

Today, Senator Michael Bennet became of a cosponsor of S.1794, The Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act of 2013, to protect Browns Canyon region as an invaluable economic and natural resource for Chaffee County and the state.  The bill, originally introduced by Colorado U.S. Senator Mark Udall in December, will designate 22,000 acres along the Arkansas River as a national monument, preserving the pristine wilderness area and ensuring recreational access for years to come.

The Arkansas River is particularly popular for whitewater rafters, representing almost 40 percent of all rafting in Colorado.  According to a recent study by the Colorado River Outfitters Association, commercial rafting brought in roughly $141 million for the state in 2013, $55 million alone coming from rafting on the Arkansas River.

“The rugged and unique beauty of Browns Canyon attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world who come to hike, camp, climb, and raft. This generates millions of dollars of revenue for our local economies,” Bennet said. “Designating Browns Canyon as a national monument will not only allow future generations to enjoy the whitewater rapids in the heart of the Rockies, but it will also ensure that the area remains an economic driver and job creator for the region.”

The Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act of 2013 contains several additional provisions, including designating 10,500 acres of new Wilderness land within the national monument, preserving existing public access to the monument area, and protecting existing uses such as fishing, hunting, grazing, and motorized use.  Following the designation of the monument the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service will work with the community to develop a detailed management plan.

Throughout his time in the Senate, Bennet has been a leader in preserving Colorado’s open spaces. He fought to secure the designation of Chimney Rock in southwestern Colorado as a national monument in 2012 and is currently leading efforts to preserve the Hermosa Creek Watershed in southwest Colorado and the Thompson Divide area on the western slope.