Senators Bennet, Hickenlooper, and Representative Neguse propose a new National Monument on the Continental Divide
LEADVILLE, CO (August 26, 2022) — Today, members of Colorado’s delegation, including Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper, and Representative Neguse, sent a letter to President Biden in support of the establishment of the Camp Hale–Continental Divide National Monument. The news comes after a visit from Secretary Vilsack, a member of President Biden’s Cabinet representing the United States Department of Agriculture, who toured Camp Hale just last week. If designated, this could be the first National Monument designated by the Biden administration.
“The Continental Divide Trail Coalition celebrates the hard work from Senators Bennet, Hickenlooper and Congressman Neguse to permanently protect Camp Hale and a significant portion of the Continental Divide Trail,” says L Fisher (they/them), Trail Policy Manager at the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC). “We ask the Biden Administration to stand with our Congressional delegation and the 89 percent of Coloradans who support additional protections of our treasured public lands by preserving these places as a national monument. The protection of these lands and waters not only protects the historical and natural resources on the Divide, but also helps to create a strong, diverse, and accessible trail community.”
Included in the proposed National Monument designation are the Camp Hale National Historic Site and the surrounding natural landscape, including the Tenmile Range and a 28 mile section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT). The Antiquities Act, which the Biden administration will use to designate this monument, has been used over 150 times throughout the history of the United States to establish and expand national monuments to conserve natural landscape and enhance the cultural heritage of historically significant spaces.
“The Tenmile Range and Camp Hale are some of the most unique sites among the many cultural, historical, and natural resources that the Continental Divide Trail connects,” says Teresa Martinez (she/hers/ella), Executive Director at the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC). “For time immemorial, this landscape has been stewarded by Indigenous people and the designation of this National Monument can help ensure the ongoing protection of this special place. With these proposed protections, we hope for a strategy of bold, innovative co-stewardship that meets this moment of the climate crisis while serving the communities that depend on vibrant, connected greenspaces the most. This action on the part of Colorado’s delegation demonstrates that community-led conservation not only works, but that leaders in Congress like Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper, and Representative Neguse, are listening to the urgent calls for bold action on the environment.”
Camp Hale and the Continental Divide landscape are one of four landscapes identified for protections in the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Economy Act, a piece of legislation that is the result of over a decade of collaboration with Colorado stakeholders. During World War II, Camp Hale was a center for mountain and winter warfare training, including more than 1,000 buildings within the valley, and was the base of operations for the 10th Mountain Division’s training. At the time of operation in the 1940s, Camp Hale was segregated, as were all contemporary U.S. military operations. Recognizing that this landscape holds a history of exclusion, stakeholders and partners are excited for a management plan that recognizes this historical context and plans for a more inclusive, collaborative landscape and experience in the future.
In addition to the historic landscape, the National Monument will also protect surrounding natural resources along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT), including in the Tenmile Range. This section of the 3,100-mile trail that spans from Mexico to Canada acts as a primary habitat and connective corridor for wildlife, as well as a continuous footpath for recreationists and others hoping to explore the scenic ridgeline trail between Leadville and Breckenridge.
“The proposed designation of Camp Hale and the surrounding area as a National Monument is very exciting,” says Greg Pierce (he/him), President of CDTC’s Board of Director. “My family has a special relationship with the area: my experiences of fishing on the Eagle downstream from Hale, learning to ski at Cooper, and spending weekends at Hornsilver and Blodgett campgrounds with lifetime family friends has helped shape my love of nature and history. These new protections would offer visitors an additional storyline about the lands and communities through which the CDT passes.”
CDTC looks forward to working with agency partners, members of Congress, communities, recreationists, and others to ensure that stewardship of this important landscape is beneficial and enjoyable for all.
About the Continental Divide Trail
The CDT is one of the world’s premiere long-distance trails, stretching 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide. Designated by Congress in 1978, the CDT is the highest, most challenging and most remote of the 11 National Scenic Trails. It provides recreational opportunities ranging from hiking to horseback riding to hunting for thousands of visitors each year. While 95% of the CDT is located on public land, approximately 150 miles are still in need of protection.
About the Continental Divide Trail Coalition
The CDTC was founded in 2012 by volunteers and recreationists hoping to provide a unified voice for the Trail. Working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Forest Service and other federal land management agencies, the CDTC is a non-profit partner supporting stewardship of the CDT. The mission of the CDTC is to complete, promote and protect the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, a world-class national resource. For more information, please visit continentaldividetrail.org.
Photos available upon request