Blame someone else for newest monument

Before he was defeated in his bid for re-election, former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., tried to get Congress to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument.

That effort failed despite support from sportsmen and wildlife enthusiasts and bill language that would have protected existing uses, such as grazing.

So when President Barack Obama did with a stroke of a pen what Congress would not, he got the usual accusations of “overreach” from some Republicans, including two members of Colorado’s congressional delegation.

Rep. Doug Lamborn, who reprents Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, said he was outraged by a “top-down, big-government land grab by the president that disenfranchises the concerned citizens in the Browns Canyon area.”

Sounds like Lamborn is pandering to anti-Obama sentiments. His accusation of a “top-down” decision-making process doesn’t reflect the grassroots movement that led to two Colorado politicians asking for Obama to exercise his presidential authority under the Antiquities Act.

If Lamborn is unhappy that Brown Canyon is now a national monument, he should blame sportsmen, rafters, hikers and hunters as co-conspirators.

Thousands of Coloradans have sought protection for the scenic landscape of the section of the Arkansas River that runs through the canyon. Former Sen. Wayne Allard and Congressman Joel Hefley, both Republicans, favored protecting the area.

For years, sportsmen’s groups have been pushing for monument status. Supporters organized hunters and fisherman to voice their support and attend numerous public forums.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper asked Obama to designate Browns Canyon as a monument after efforts by Bennet and Udall to protect the land failed in Congress.

“I was proud to champion this decades-long, bipartisan effort alongside leaders like Congressman Joel Hefley and the people of Chaffee County,” Udall said in a press release. “Thanks to the president’s action, which mirrors my community-driven legislation, future generations of anglers, rafters, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts will be able to enjoy this special place along the Arkansas River as we do today.”

The 22,000-acre Browns Canyon National Monument includes important fish and wildlife habitat and some of the best whitewater rafting in the country. It’s an economic driver for Colorado’s $1.2 billion fishing economy and $500 million hunting economy. Browns Canyon is also the single largest contributor to Colorado’s $140 million whitewater rafting industry, according to a press release from sportsmen’s groups that supported the designation. Obama’s action confers monument status, while protecting for existing grazing rights, access, water rights, and other uses. Where’s the downside?

A previous version of this editorial incorrectly attributed the quote in the second-to-last paragraph to Sen. Bennet.


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