Letter to the Editor: Camp Hale becoming a national monument is an overdue recognition

David Lien
Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers co-chair

President Joe Biden visited Colorado on Wednesday, Oct. 12, to designate Camp Hale as a national monument, providing long overdue recognition to the World War II veterans who trained there in preparation for joining the war in Europe to defeat Hitler’s Nazi regime. Tucked in a high mountain valley 17 miles north of Leadville, Camp Hale was home base for the renowned 10th Mountain Division.

From November 1942 through June 1944, Camp Hale housed 14,000 troops — along with 4,000 mules and 250 sled dogs — of the 10th Mountain Division, who learned to rock climb, perform military maneuvers on skis, and endure a brutal climate in preparation for mountain warfare. Over 18 grueling months soldiers trained to fight at high altitudes.

After completing their training in Colorado, they deployed to the mountains of Italy and fought with distinction. The 10th Mountain Division was deactivated in 1945 and subsequently re-activated in 1985, based out of Fort Drum, New York. Since then, the 10th has deployed to Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, but no matter where they’re based, members honor their alpine legacy by retaining the mountain tab on their sleeve insignia.

“Valuable wildlife habitat in central Colorado will be permanently conserved following today’s designation of Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument by President Joe Biden,” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) stated in a press release. “Encompassing more than 10,000 acres of critical winter range for elk as well as mule deer habitat, migration corridors and headwaters fisheries, the area also is home to a historic military site, Camp Hale …”

In 2016, BHA and a consortium of outdoor groups and businesses released report on how national monument designations can sustain important fish and wildlife habitat while maintaining traditional hunting and fishing access.

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