Colorado Sen. Mark Udall has released a detailed legislative proposal to establish Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Area. The latest step in a yearlong public-engagement process, Udall's proposal reflects feedback from dozens of stakeholders, including business owners, sportsmen, elected officials and recreational groups.
"My business livelihood and quality of life both depend on the protection of Browns Canyon," said Christian Campton, owner of KODI Rafting in Frisco. "I personally appreciate Sen. Udall's efforts to ensure the national monument will continue to allow rafting, fishing, hunting and other economic drivers while helping us attract new visitors to experience what makes this area so unique."
Protection of places like Browns Canyon as a national monument positively affects the economic health of river outfitters, local businesses and the surrounding communities, said Ryan Bidwell of The Wilderness Society in a statement praising Udall's actions.
"Browns Canyon is a national treasure which deserves permanent protection to ensure the outdoor legacy, recreational opportunities and the local economic growth for the future," Bidwell said. "We applaud Sen. Udall for responding to public comments and crafting a balanced proposal that will allow economically important recreation to continue, while ensuring the area is protected for future generations."
Udall's proposal would protect approximately 22,000 acres along the iconic Arkansas River between Salida and Buena Vista. Browns Canyon is one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in the nation. The regional whitewater sports industry, which includes rafting, kayaking and other activities, accounted for more than $20 million in direct expenditures for a total economic impact of more than $52 million in the Arkansas Valley in 2012.