Letter to the Editor: Camp Hale, Tenmile Range deserve national monument status

Nissa Erickson

Designating Camp Hale and the majestic Tenmile Range as a national monument honors the 10th Mountain Division veterans’ incredible legacy and legendary contributions to the United States and Colorado. Protecting these landscapes is a powerful tribute to those that served our country in World War II and went on to build our ski and outdoor economy. Today, the ski industry generates $4.8 billion in annual economic output and supports 46,000 jobs. Outdoor recreation contributed $9.6 billion to Colorado’s economy in 2020 alone.

The Tenmile Range forms the backdrop visitors see when exploring Summit County and our mountain towns. Preserving the mountain range protects the ecosystem in perpetuity. The designation would guarantee sustainable recreation opportunities like mountain biking, hiking, backcountry skiing, and climbing for future generations. Our community values the natural environment and the ability to get outside, and our economy relies on it. 

Protecting public lands is an American value and part of our heritage. Due to the hard work of countless organizations, towns, counties, veterans, and individuals who crafted the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, 86% of Coloradans support it. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives an astonishing five times but stalled in the Senate. The ultimate goal is to pass the entire bill, and Gov. Jared Polis, Sens. Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper, and Rep. Joe Neguse are committed to this goal. They recognize that a national monument designation is an essential first step. 

Our local communities and elected officials have worked together for over a decade to protect these places. The contributions of the 10th Mountain Division veterans to our state and our country transcend time. President Joe Biden has an opportunity to honor Colorado’s past, present, and future by designating the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument.

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