Updates: President Biden visits Eagle County to designate national monument at Camp Hale

Vail Daily staff report
Vail Daily
Joe Biden signs a declaration creating the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Camp Hale between Red Cliff and Leadville.
Nate Peterson/Vail Daily

President Joe Biden arrived Wednesday in Eagle County on Air Force One and traveled to Camp Hale above Red Cliff via motorcade to sign a declaration establishing the administration’s first national monument.

The Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument is the product of more than a decade of work by Colorado leaders and stakeholders to protect the land surrounding the former training site for the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. The new monument, created under the Antiquities Act, will be the ninth national monument in Colorado. The Biden Administration also moved to block mining and oil and gas drilling on 225,000 acres of Colorado’s Thompson Divide — another tract of land included in the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Economy Act, a massive public lands bill that has passed the House of Representatives five times only to run aground in the U.S. Senate.

Here are updates on Biden’s visit:

2 p.m.: Biden puts pen to paper on the declaration of the new monument while flanked by Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, Rep. Joe Neguse, Ute tribal leaders, Forest Service officials and surviving 10th Mountain Division veterans.

12:15 p.m: Air Force One plane is parked on the Eagle County Regional Airport tarmac. A number of local residents stood along Cooley Mesa Road to wave on the motorcade. Many have continued to drive up to the jet center to take pictures of the famed airplane.

Spectators expressed excitement over the visit, and felt it was important that the president see Eagle County and the Colorado area for himself.

“We’re just glad to see him here, recognizing Colorado and seeing what this part of the country looks like because it seems like everything is so East-centric,” said one spectator named Deb, a resident of Eagle Ranch. “It’s great to have him see Colorado, and to see, for instance, how dry it is. We need help, and we need someone there who understands.”

Carrie McIlvaine, a resident of Boulder, was on the road as the president’s motorcade passed.

“We don’t get things like this in our little community. It’s once in a lifetime,” McIlvaine said.

11:55 a.m.: Following a conversation with the legislators, Biden entered a suburban and set off for Camp Hale in a presidential motorcade made up of dozens of vehicles, including a bomb squad, paramedics, military personnel, local police and others.

Biden was greeted on the tarmac by Governor Jared Polis, senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, congressman Joe Neguse and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Follow along with updates throughout the day as the president visits Eagle County.

11:52 a.m.: Snipers move into position via ATVs on the ridgelines above the Camp Hale signing ceremony while the crowd awaits the arrival of the president.

Snipers can be seen Monday at Camp Hale as the president makes his way to the site of Wednesday’s monument designation ceremony.

11:37 a.m.: President Biden touches down at Eagle County Regional Airport on Air Force One. He was greeted on the tarmac by Gov. Jared Polis, Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, Rep. Joe Neguse and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

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