Biden Designates Camp Hale in Colorado as His First National Monument
Camp Hale, a former military training site during World War II, is joining the nations list of National Monuments and is President Joe Biden’s first National Monument designation. The new Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument protects more than 50,000 acres of land in Colorado.
Camp Hale was used for military training but was shut down in 1965, and has since been used primarily for recreational purposes. The White House also noted in a fact sheet that the area is within the ancestral lands for Ute Tribes and has historical and spiritual significance.
“This action will honor our nation’s veterans, Indigenous people, and their legacy by protecting this Colorado landscape, while supporting jobs and America’s outdoor recreation economy,” the White House said in a fact sheet.
With the National Monument designation, the land is now under management by the U.S. Forest Service.
Biden has previously restored three National Monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the eastern U.S. coasts — that former president Donald Trump had opened up for fossil fuel developments and commercial fishing. But Camp Hale will be the first new National Monument designation by Biden.
In addition to creating the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, the Biden administration has also proposed a 20-year mineral withdrawal for Thompson Divide in Colorado. This proposal would protect around 225,000 acres from mining and fossil fuel drilling.
The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have submitted a petition and application for the withdrawal to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for approval. With Haaland’s approval, the area will be protected for two years while the agencies seek public comment and conduct a scientific environmental analysis to determine impacts of a 20-year mineral withdraw for Thompson Divide.
“A coalition of hunters, ranchers, farmers, outdoor enthusiasts and community leaders have worked for decades to ensure the Thompson Divide area is protected,” Haaland said in a statement. “Today the Biden-Harris administration is taking an important and sensible step to ensure that we have the science and public input necessary to make informed decisions about sustainable management of public lands in the Thompson Divide area.”
While the House of Representatives’ Republicans are against the new protections, citing “severe land-use restrictions,” conservationists are praising today’s announcement.
“This is a critical step toward ensuring these public lands do not succumb to the same destruction that so many of our other treasured places have,” Michael Freeman, a senior attorney at Earthjustice, said, as reported by CNBC.