GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KREX) – The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial board has approved Michael Bennet’s effort to designate Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range as a national monument. Bennet, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, and U.S. Representative Joe Neguse urged President Joe Biden to designate Colorado’s Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range as the Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument and safeguard additional landscapes covered by the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act, such as the Thompson Divide and the Gulch.
Bennet has worked on the CORE Act with Coloradans for more than ten years in order to maintain the state’s existing outdoor recreation options for future generations, increase the economy of the state, create new wilderness areas, and conserve over 400,000 acres of public property in Colorado. Bennet, Hickenlooper, Neguse, and Polis are pleading with the administration to act quickly and save these landscapes for future generations as they continue to push the CORE Act through Congress.
The 10th Mountain Division trained at Camp Hale west of Leadville during World War II. Members of the division participated in important battles and later helped build the state’s ski industry. It is past due to make Camp Hale a national monument in order to safeguard it.
In World War II, most of the soldiers who trained at Camp Hale and heroically defended the United States and Europe have passed away. There will not be anyone around to see this historic site protected if it is not designated a national monument soon.
According to information provided by The Daily Sentinel’s Dennis Webb, last week, U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, and Gov. Jared Polis wrote to President Joe Biden to ask him, among other things, to use his power under the Antiquities Act to designate the Camp Hale area and land on the Tenmile Range as the Camp Hale — Continental Divide National Monument.
The Army employed the hilly terrain beyond the valley floor where the soldiers were housed to train soldiers for winter battle, and subsequent generations have recreated in the same environment. The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, which has repeatedly passed in the House of Representatives but has not yet cleared the Senate, has been working toward protecting this region.
The bill would officially designate the boundaries of the long-standing Curecanti National Recreation Area west of Gunnison, withdraw about 200,000 acres in the Thompson Divide region from potential oil and gas leasing, provide wilderness or other conservation designations for other lands from central Colorado’s mountains to southwest Colorado, and designate Camp Hale outside Leadville as the country’s first National Historic Landscape.
“This legislation has been built from the ground up with years of dedicated stakeholder engagement and enjoys bipartisan support,” the letter to Biden says. “Regrettably, progress in Congress has stalled despite strong support in Colorado. The time has come to take the next step in protecting the key landscapes within the CORE Act and we need your help.”
There are further facets of the CORE Act that need to be pursued. It could be necessary to enact the different parts of this law more gradually, but it should not be abandoned.
While that laborious effort is ongoing, people can honor and appreciate the troops who trained at Camp Hale by protecting the location, which has played a significant role in both the history of Colorado and our armed forces.
This year, designate Camp Hale and the surrounding area as a National Monument.