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Reaction pours in on Biden designation of Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument

October 12, 2022, 7:59 am
World War II ruins at Camp Hale (David O. Williams photo).

Colorado elected officials, conservation groups, outdoor recreation and veteran’s organizations on Wednesday issued a series of press releases lauding the designation by President Joe Biden of Camp Hale and the nearby Tenmile Range as a national monument.

According to the signed proclamation, as Biden visits Camp Hale on Wednesday to deliver remarks, the new Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument is 53,800 acres.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet

Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released the below statement following news that President Biden will designate Camp Hale-Continental Divide as the administration’s first national monument:

“I can think of no better choice for President Biden’s first national monument than Camp Hale-Continental Divide. This designation will permanently protect Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range, the iconic site where the 10th Mountain Division trained to fight in World War II and later returned to found much of Colorado’s ski industry. With every passing year, there are fewer World War II veterans who trained at Camp Hale left to tell their story, which is why it is so important that we protect this site now. 

“This designation and the administration’s efforts to protect the Thompson Divide enjoy broad, bipartisan support from Coloradans, and testify to the hard work of local leaders and groups, who have worked for years to preserve this vital part of our history and our landscapes. I am grateful to President Biden for answering Colorado’s call to honor our veterans, safeguard our wildlife and public lands, and strengthen our outdoor recreation economy.”

Colorado U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper

LEADVILLE, Colo. – U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper today lauded President Biden’s intent to designate Camp Hale a national monument. The designation comes after numerous organizations, towns, counties and businesses in the area, and around the state, called on the president to take action, including the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Tenth Mountain Division Descendents, Tenth Mountain Division Foundation, National Association of the 10th Mountain Division, Colorado State Senate, Colorado General Assembly, Vet Voice Foundation, Conservation Colorado, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Town of Breckenridge, Eagle County, Town of Avon, Gunnison County, Pitkin County, Lake County, San Juan County, San Miguel County, Summit County, Town of Frisco, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and others.

“Camp Hale is being protected thanks to the efforts of 10th Mountain Division veterans and local Coloradans who want to see these historic, breathtaking lands protected for generations to come,” said Hickenlooper. “From the beginning, Senator Bennet’s CORE Act has been about helping communities protect their public lands. Today’s designation continues that effort.”

In addition to Camp Hale becoming a national monument, President Biden also announced a mineral withdrawal of 200,000 acres of BLM lands across the Thompson Divide in Garfield, Gunnison, and Pitkin Counties.

In August, Hickenlooper, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Congressman Joe Neguse, and Governor Jared Polis sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to use presidential authorities, including the Antiquities Act, to protect the landscapes included in the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act.

In January 2021, Hickenlooper, Bennet and Neguse reintroduced the CORE Act, which combines four previously introduced Colorado public land bills that have been in development over the past decade: the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act, the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act, the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act, and the Curecanti National Recreation Area Boundary Establishment Act.

Earlier this year the CORE Act received its first-ever Senate committee vote, a new high-water mark in the effort to pass the bill into law.

Colorado U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse

Lafayette, CO — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee, will join President Biden in his district in Eagle County for the President’s announcement designating ​Colorado’s Camp Hale as the country’s newest national monument, and a 20-year mineral withdrawal in the Thompson Divide area. The Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument permanently protects the historic sites and public landscapes located in Eagle County.  

Representative Neguse has championed this designation for several years through the introduction of his bill, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act, which he secured passage of five times in the House of Representatives. 

Today’s decision from the Biden Administration comes just a month after Rep. Neguse, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis wrote to President Biden requesting he use his Presidential authorities to protect the landscapes included in the CORE Act, including Camp Hale and the Thompson Divide, following a visit from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that Chairman Neguse hosted in Eagle County. The administration is also announcing a proposed 20-year mineral withdrawal for 225,000 acres in the Thompson Divide area to prohibit mining, in response to this letter and broad concerns about protecting the Thompson Divide’s important wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, grazing lands and clean air and water.

“For over a decade, Colorado’s mountain and rural communities, small businesses, recreation groups, ranchers and conservationists have worked together in an effort to protect our public lands, honor the legacy of Camp Hale and secure outdoor recreation opportunities. Today, I join with all Coloradans in applauding President Biden’s decision to name Camp Hale as this country’s newest national monument. Today’s decision will ensure that this treasured landscape is protected for generations to come,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Camp Hale has always held a special place in our state’s history, from the important role it played globally during World War II to the way in which it helped grow our ski and outdoor recreation industries. And from this point forward, not only will this landscape and treasured public lands be cemented into the American story, but so will the storied history and sacrifices of the 10th Mountain Division.”

Camp Hale, which was once a center of mountain and winter warfare training during World War II, now serves as an epicenter for Colorado’s outdoor recreation community, attracting countless visitors each year with plentiful opportunities for hiking, fishing, and more. Designating the 53,804-acre national monument as President Biden’s first new national monument speaks to the storied and important legacy of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Colorado and around the world. 

“Camp Hale has long been a touchstone for veterans and the surrounding mountain communities, a stirring reminder of the contribution our local landscape made to the battle for freedom in World War II. Future generations will thank all who worked so hard to preserve this unique public asset.  This designation honors the legacy of the Tenth Mountain Division,  protects the headwaters and wetlands that feed the Eagle River – the primary water supply for Eagle County and a tributary of the Colorado River –  and recognizes the value of outdoor recreation to our local and state economy. It’s a great day for all of us!” said Avon Mayor, Sarah Smith Hymes.

“Eagle County is thrilled with the designation of Camp Hale and the Ten Mile Range as a National Monument. These critical pieces of the CORE Act are a testament to the grit, perseverance and foresight of the Tenth Mountain Division troops. The areas that will be protected are the birthplace of the ski industry, and are important environmental and heritage landscapes. Stakeholder groups throughout our counties have worked to protect these lands for over a decade. We so appreciate Congressman Neguse and Senator Bennet for their tireless efforts, and are grateful to President Biden for making this happen,” said Kathy Chandler-Henry, Eagle County Commissioner.

“By designating the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument and initiating a withdrawal for the Thompson Divide, President Biden heeded the calls of Coloradans who joined together to protect these important federal lands. Camp Hale, the historic World War II era military site and training grounds along the Continental Divide, has been called the birthplace of the outdoor recreation industry. The Thompson Divide hosts world-class wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities. Coloradans love our shared public lands, which is why nearly 9 out of 10 Coloradans support efforts to protect these places for future generations,” said Colorado State Director of the Wilderness Society, Jim Ramey.

“As the daughter of a medic who trained at Camp Hale, I know how meaningful this national monument designation is to the families of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers,” said 10th Mountain Division Foundation President, Nancy Kramer. “We’re so grateful that their legacies will be preserved in this landscape for future generations to learn from and enjoy.”

“The Colorado Snowsports Museum is thrilled that Camp Hale is being designated as a National Monument. This designation will forever preserve Camp Hale, meaning future generations will know the significance and legacy of the 10th Mountain Division and the role they played in World War II. This site hopefully will become an outdoor museum in a place where the story will continue to be told,” said Executive Director of the Colorado Snowsports Museum, Jennifer Mason.

“This is big! We have been working for over a decade with bi-partisan community supporters for the permanent protection of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide area,” said Conservation Colorado CEO, Kelly Nordini. “Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and Congressman Joe Neguse have done Colorado proud with their leadership to protect these landscapes for generations to come. Thank you President Biden for making this your first, of hopefully many to come, monument designations that protect the places people love and boost local economies.”

The Colorado lawmakers proposed the protection of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide landscape as part of the CORE Act in 2019. Representative Neguse has championed the passage of the CORE Act through the House of Representatives five times since being sworn into Congress, most recently in July as part of the FY 23 NDAA. In May 2022, Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper secured the first-ever Senate committee vote on the CORE Act. The bill, which calls for the destination of Camp Hale as the first-ever National Historic Landscape, also includes a measure to honor Sanford Morris “Sandy” Treat Jr. a veteran of the camp by naming an overlook point in his honor. Additionally, the CORE Act includes protections for the Thompson Divide—one of Colorado’s most treasured landscapes—by withdrawing over 200,000 acres from future oil and gas development, while preserving existing private property rights for leaseholders and landowners. Through his capacity on the Natural Resources Committee, Representative Neguse has continued to champion this provision, and most recently Rep. Neguse secured inclusion of funding for this provision as part of the House-passed Build Back Better Act.

The Mountain Pact

DURANGO, CO — Today President Biden designated Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado – his first monument. The Mountain Pact, an organization that works with hundreds of local elected officials in nearly 100 communities across the Western U.S., released the below statements from area local elected officials in response to the designation. 

Kathy Chandler-Henry, Eagle County, Colorado Commissioner said, “We are thrilled with the new monument designation for Camp Hale-Continental Divide in Eagle County. This monument will honor the service of our veterans from the 10th Mountain Division who trained at Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range, served our nation with distinction in World War II and returned home to help found Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy. This national historic landscape will receive the protections it deserves through this monument designation, assuring it will be enjoyed and serve as a place of respect for generations to come.” 

Summit County, Colorado Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said: “The designation of a Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument is an important tribute that celebrates mountain communities’ role in helping the entire nation through World War II with the help of the 10th Mountain Division Ski Troops that trained at Camp Hale and the surrounding Ten Mile Range. Establishing these areas as a National Monument will bring great benefits to our Western mountain communities and is an important step towards providing our Western communities with a bright future while honoring the past.”

Mayor of Vail, Colorado, Kim Langmaid said, “The Vail community is very excited about this designation. Camp Hale is a prominent cultural landscape that connects with our ski history. We also appreciate the President’s recognition of the diverse local stakeholders who support the designation, and the ecological restoration of the Eagle River headwaters and surrounding mountain wetlands.”

Mayor of Frisco, Colorado, Hunter Mortensen said, “The mountains between the historic Camp Hale and the peaks of the Tenmile Mountain Range are a vital part of our community. The creation of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument shows a commitment to protect our public lands. This designation not only shows our commitment to our rich history and the lands that have lasting impact on our collective story, but also to all of the groups that came together to make a public lands plan that gave everyone a voice. Today is a day to celebrate our lands, our history, and our future.”

Mayor of Breckenridge, Colorado, Eric Mamula said, ”With the designation of Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, President Biden has protected the Tenmile Range – a scientific and geographically interesting and beautiful area our visitors and community members love. In fact, the most hiked peak above 14,000 feet in Colorado, Quandary Peak, is located in the Tenmile Range. Bringing additional resources to the Tenmile Range will help preserve the scientific importance of the area and make it more resilient so that future generations can enjoy it as much as those of today.” 

Mayor of Avon, Colorado, Sarah Smith-Hymes said, “Camp Hale has long been a touchstone for veterans and the surrounding mountain communities, a stirring reminder of the contribution our local landscape made to the battle for freedom in World War II. Future generations will thank all who worked so hard to preserve this unique public asset. This designation honors the legacy of the Tenth Mountain Division, protects the headwaters and wetlands that feed the Eagle River – the primary water supply for Eagle County and a tributary of the Colorado River –  and recognizes the value of outdoor recreation to our local and state economy. It’s a great day for all of us!”  

Greg Poschman, Pitkin County Commissioner and 10th Mountain Division descendant said, “President Biden’s designation of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide is a unique and powerful tribute to those who served our country in World War II, then came home to lead our outdoor preservation ethic, and to build America’s skiing and outdoor recreation economy. For Coloradans and for all Americans, these are the sources of our clean air and pure water, and they are the wellspring of our inspiration, identity and history. These iconic areas are most worthy of conservation. We thank President Biden for taking action to protect this important place. We also ask President Biden to go “all in” for all the public lands designations in The CORE Act on which we have all worked so hard for the past decade. This would send a strong message that our President is “all in” to support Colorado!” 

Clark County, Nevada Commissioner Justin Jones said, “Having Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument designated today is exciting and encouraging. Our community is happy to see President Biden start to designate national monuments and encourage him to use his authority again, soon, to designate an Avi Kwa Ame a national monument. Public lands are more vital to our health and well-being than we ever thought. The full Clark County Commission has passed a supportive resolution and joined the overwhelming local support for the establishment of Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument.”

Anna Peterson, Executive Director of The Mountain Pact, and granddaughter-in-law of a 10th Mountain Division Trainee, said, “We are beyond thrilled that President Biden has designated the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument! This designation honors Colorado’s military legacy and the history of Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division, a unique and powerful tribute to those who have served our country. The Antiquities Act conserves vital places so our stories can be told and experiences can be shared for generations to come. We celebrate today and tomorrow we will continue to urge President Biden to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect more places with cultural and scientific significance as national monuments. Places like Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada and Castner Range in Texas have overwhelming local support; we need more protected public lands, including national monuments that build upon ongoing and often-untold stories of the true history of the United States.”


Founded in 2014, The Mountain Pact mobilizes local elected officials in nearly 100 Western mountain communities with outdoor recreation based economies to speak with a collective voice on federal climate, public lands, and outdoor recreation policy.


There is Overwhelming support across Colorado for this designation – 

Boosting Colorado’s Rural Economies – 

  • Protected public lands are an important part of Colorado’s identity and a driver of the state’s tourism and outdoor recreation economy. 
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis found that in 2020, outdoor recreation contributed $9.6 billion to Colorado’s economy. Additionally, the ski industry alone generates $4.8 billion in annual economic output and supports more than 46,000 jobs.

The Antiquities Act-

  •  In 1906, Congress passed the Antiquities Act, which created the first national historic preservation policy for the United States and ensured that the president can designate national monuments to protect natural, cultural, and historic sites, as well as waters and lands of great scientific value. Historically, presidents from both parties have used the Antiquities Act to designate national monuments an equal number of times.
  • Since the act was passed, 18 presidents – nine Democratic and nine Republican – have designated 158 national monuments across the country. Presidents have exercised their authority under the Antiquities Act to create many iconic monuments including the Statue of LibertyBears EarsGrand CanyonGiant SequoiaMuir WoodsGreat Sand DunesChimney Rock, among others.
  • The Biden administration can achieve its goal of protecting more nature by using the Antiquities Act to create new national monuments. Community-led solutions, like locally-led national monument efforts, can protect archeological, historical, and cultural resources; ensure more equitable access to nature; address the climate crisis; restore America’s biodiversity and wildlife; and begin to reckon with historic and present injustices. With an evenly split Senate, Congress is unlikely to move on its own to protect public lands so we are counting on the administration to move swiftly to use its authority to conserve vital places for our communities.

More From The Mountain Pact on National Monuments – 

Vet Voice Foundation

Washington, D.C. — Today President Biden permanently protected Camp Hale as part of the designation of the Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument. In reaction, Vet Voice Foundation CEO Janessa Goldbeck released the following statement:

“We want to offer our sincere thanks to President Biden, Secretary Haaland, and others in the administration who made this designation a reality. 

“Few places epitomize the connection between Veterans and our nation’s public lands quite like Camp Hale, a former training site for the U.S. Army – most notably for the 10th Mountain Division – where Soldiers learned to fight in cold weather conditions. After World War II ended, some of those very same Veterans returned to these areas and helped launch the ski industry and modern outdoor recreation economy of Colorado.

“This is a campaign we’ve been working on for years alongside our fellow Veterans on the ground in Colorado and here in Washington. Beyond the President and his administration, we also want to thank Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, Governor Polis, and Congressman Neguse for their unwavering commitment to championing the creation of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument — a place every American will now be able to enjoy for generations to come.”

Founded in 2009, the mission of Vet Voice Foundation is to empower Veterans across the country to become civic leaders and policy advocates by providing the support, training, and tools they need to continue their service and find new missions at home. VVF seeks to harness the energy and drive of the dedicated men and women who have fought for their country and put it to work at home and in their communities on the important issues they face, such as the environment, voting rights, disinformation, health care, jobs, and more.

Vet Voice Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, for charitable and educational purposes.

Black, Indigenous and Latino conservation groups

Black, Indigenous and Latino conservation groups are reacting to President Biden’s designation of Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado today, celebrating his decision and urging the White House to take action to protect other critically threatened spaces across the US. A lot of these spaces specifically protect the cultural history and legacy of the United States through the lens of people of color. I’ve put the statements below together:

Lydia Parker, executive director of Hunters of Color, which promotes outdoor recreation access for people of color, said: 

“Communities of Color in Colorado and across the country are too often denied access to the majestic outdoor spaces that make our country rich and beautiful. By expanding our national parks and monuments, we expand access to these communities.”

Maite Arce, Pesident and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, a Latino-led conservation group explained: 

“As we celebrate the designation, it’s important to build on its momentum and continue to support community-led efforts to designate National Monuments that are centered in voices of the communities. Specifically, those from communities that we represent, who are so often excluded from these efforts, including Caster Range, Avi Kwa Ame, and Berryessa Snow Mountain. Designating these monuments is a right step towards placing an importance in protecting, recognizing and celebrating the diverse cultures and contributions from all Americans.”

Charles Blatcher III, Chairman of the National Coalition of Black Veterans, added: 

“The National Coalition is proud of Black military service in the Tenth Mountain Division, the U.S. Army and all the uniformed services. While the 10th Mountain Division started as a racially segregated unit, it was desegregated by President Truman in 1948. By designating National Monuments under the Antiquities Act, Presidents of both parties have told the stories of Black soldiers who fought in combat and against racism in the military and at home. In 2013, President Obama designated the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio, elevating the remarkable story of Brig. General Charles Young, who was born to enslaved parents in Kentucky in 1864 and later rose to the rank of Colonel, the highest-ranking Black officer at the time.  As the commanding officer of the Buffalo Soldiers, Charles Young was America’s first Black superintendent of a National Park. By adding Charles Young’s Birth Cabin to the Charles Young Buffalo Solders National Monument, President Biden can contribute to telling Charles Young’s full story, and honor the arc of his remarkable life from a rough cabin in Kentucky to West Point, military combat, Yosemite National Park, and burial at Arlington Cemetery on June 1, 1923. We call on President Biden to designate the Charles Young Birth Cabin as a National Monument by June 1, 2023, to commemorate the centennial of Gen. Young’s burial at Arlington Cemetery.”

The Nevada-based HONOR AVI KWA AME Coalition, issued a statement saying: 

In Nevada, tribes, local municipalities, conservation groups, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts in Nevada are calling for similar action by the Administration to protect Avi Kwa Ame (the Mojave name for Spirit Mountain and the surrounding area). Avi Kwa Ame is territory that is sacred to Yuman-speaking Native American tribes, including the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, and is an integral part of the creation story for these Indigenous communities. Avi Kwa Ame also includes part of the world’s largest Joshua Tree forests, and is a crucial habitat rich in biodiversity, featuring iconic desert species such as the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep. The local towns and cities in the surrounding area, like Laughlin, Searchlight, and Boulder City, are likely to see increased economic activity and jobs by bolstering Nevada’s already-vibrant outdoor recreation economy, which supports close to 60,000 jobs in the state of Nevada alone. As we, the Honor Avi Kwa Ame coalition, celebrate Camp Hale’s designation we also hope to see President Biden announce a plan to designate Avi Kwa Ame very soon. Congresswoman Dina Titus filed legislation in the House for the designation of Avi Kwa Ame earlier this year. We’re thrilled by today’s news in hopes that it shows new momentum on behalf of the administration to protect unique and important landmarks and outdoor spaces.

Olivia Juarez, Public Land Program Director of GreenLatinos, a national nonprofit working to create equity for Latinx people, explained: 

“The Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument establishment gets America one step closer to 30 percent protected lands and waters by 2030. We applaud President Biden for this move that will benefit many generations of people to come who will be protected from water pollution and degradation of the landscape. We hope this is President Biden’s first bold action of many to designate national monuments regions such as Texas and Nevada, where communities have been petitioning for national monuments at Castner Range and Avi Kwa Ame.”

Gabaccia Morena, fellow at the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, a Latinx conservation group based in El Paso, added: 

“I feel our community’s excitement to finally see President Biden using the Antiquities Act to support the national monument designation of Camp Hale. It is today, after 50-plus years of advocacy, that we are more hopeful than ever that the protection of Castner Range is a real possibility. May President Biden see the passion and dedication of El Pasoans and gift them a more than well-deserved monument.”

Teresa Haley, President of NAACP Illinois State Conference and the Springfield Branch NAACP, said: 

“The Springfield NAACP joins with communities nationwide to commend President Biden for protecting Camp Hale-Continental Divide as a National Monument. When we safeguard our cultural heritage we ensure that future generations of Americans will be able to experience and learn from it. That’s why President Biden shouldn’t stop with Camp Hale. We hope the President will build on this momentum by protecting the Springfield 1908 Race Riot site as a National Monument, to acknowledge this terrible chapter in our history and to help our nation heal and learn. As one of the country’s worst examples of mass racial violence, the Springfield Race Riot generated outrage which led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. Despite our nation’s long history of race riots and thousands of lynchings, the National Park Service does not have any parks that tell these terrible stories, or that tell the story of the birth of the NAACP and the courage and leadership of Ida B. Wells-Barnett and other Black leaders who fought to stop racial violence. It’s long past time that this changed, and President Biden can do it with the stroke of a pen. Our community is united in asking President Biden for this designation, with bipartisan support from Senators Duckworth and Durbin and from Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Republican colleagues.To build on the designation of Camp Hale – Continental Divide, we call on President Biden to designate the Springfield 1908 Race Riot National Monument.”

Access Fund

BOULDER, Colo. – Today, President Joe Biden announced the designation of Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument. Nestled in Colorado’s spectacular central mountains, the new national monument protects historic Camp Hale and its surrounding landscape. It honors our nation’s veterans and Colorado’s contribution to our military legacy—the place where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II.

In addition to its conservation and historical value, Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument also celebrates American climbing history. Camp Hale was a key training facility during World War II. It’s where mountain soldiers developed many of the climbing, skiing, and mountaineering techniques that we use today—all before heading to Europe to fight fascism.

“Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument secures both sustainable climbing access and long-term conservation—a winning combination for health and wellness, our economy, and our environment,” says Access Fund Executive Director Chris Winter. “Access Fund will continue to make sure that this new monument is protected for future generations and that all of us can sustainably access and enjoy these public lands.”

Permanent protections for Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument didn’t come together overnight. This monument is the result of more than a decade of work by members and descendants of the 10th Mountain Division, dedicated elected leaders, and climbers. Access Fund’s work to support this designation stretches back 12 years.

“The Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument protects Colorado’s public lands, including some roadside cragging and exceptional mountain peaks and traverses,” says Access Fund Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs Erik Murdock. “Access Fund, and the entire climbing community, deeply appreciate protecting the legacy of Camp Hale. We are thankful for the work of Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, Congressman Neguse, and Governor Polis, and are especially grateful to the Biden administration for their commitment to conservation and historical preservation.”

Access Fund’s commitment to conservation is a long-term one. We can’t protect America’s climbing without also protecting and conserving the beautiful places that make the climbing experience so special. Through climber education, stewardship, and policy work, we can continue to protect and enjoy these places for years to come.

Access Fund is the national advocacy organization that leads and inspires the climbing community toward sustainable access and conservation of the climbing environment. Access Fund represents more than 8 million climbers nationwide in its work to protect and conserve the land, fight for sustainable access, and build a community of inspired advocates. For more information, visit accessfund.org.

Continental Divide Trail Coalition

LEADVILLE, CO (October 12, 2022) —  Today, President Biden designated Camp Hale–Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado, marking the first National Monument designation by the Biden administration. The designation comes after leaders from Colorado, including Senator Bennet, Senator Hickenlooper, Governor Polis, and Representative Neguse, sent a letter to President Biden urging for protections of this area in August, following a recent visit from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to Camp Hale.

“For time immemorial, the Continental Divide has been a place for people to connect, explore, and live in one the most vibrant, natural landscapes on the continent.” says Teresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. “The action taken by President Biden today will ensure that the stories and cultures of this land will be preserved for the next generation to learn from and continue to build Colorado’s legacy as a leader in the stewardship of these special places. Future management of Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range has the potential to act as a model for what community-led, cooperative stewardship of a National Monument looks like under the Biden Administration, and we could not be more excited to engage in that shared work alongside great partners like Senator Bennet and other Colorado leaders.” 

Camp Hale and the Continental Divide landscape are one of four landscapes identified for protections in the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Economy Act, a piece of legislation that is the result of over a decade of collaboration with Colorado stakeholders. Included in the National Monument designation are the Camp Hale National Historic Site and the surrounding natural landscape, including the Tenmile Range and over 20 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT). This section of the 3,100-mile trail that spans from Mexico to Canada acts as a primary habitat and connective corridor for wildlife, as well as a continuous footpath for recreationists and others hoping to explore the scenic ridgeline trail between Leadville and Breckenridge. 

“Today’s designation demonstrates that we have leaders along the Divide and in D.C. that listen to the voices of communities who are urgently calling for bold, immediate protections for our lands, waters, and stories,” says L Fisher (they/them), Trail Policy Manager at the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC). “A recent survey of Gateway Communities along the CDT showed that 90% of respondents believe protections of land and water are essential to their wellbeing, business, and way of life. That says to me that this designation is not just about protecting the environment, but also about protecting the people, businesses, communities, and their way of life along the Divide. Hopefully, this will be the first of many such designations from the Biden Administration that preserve our past, better our present, and invest in our future.”

During World War II, Camp Hale was a center for mountain and winter warfare training, including more than 1,000 buildings within the valley, and was the base of operations for the 10th Mountain Division’s training. At the time of operation in the 1940s, Camp Hale was segregated, as were all contemporary U.S. military operations. Recognizing that this landscape holds a history of exclusion, stakeholders and partners are excited for a management plan that recognizes this historical context and plans for a more inclusive, collaborative landscape and experience in the future. 

“The designation of the Camp Hale–Continental Divide National Monument honors the thousands of 10th Mountain Division World War II veterans like my father, Charles J. Owen, who trained at Camp Hale for fighting in extreme weather conditions,” says Don Owen, Secretary of CDTC’s Board of Directors. “The stories my father told about grueling training maneuvers at high altitude, learning to ski while carrying an 80-pound pack and a rifle, and carrying injured or frostbitten soldiers out of the backcountry on their backs or sleds are some of our family’s most cherished memories. It means so much to my family — and to all of the families of 10th Mountain Division soldiers who trained at Camp Hale — to see it protected as a way of honoring and remembering their service to the country. I thank President Biden, Senator Bennet, and other Colorado leaders for their work in protecting this special landscape while also helping preserve the stories and memories of our nation’s World War II heroes for future generations.”

CDTC looks forward to working with agency partners, members of Congress, communities, recreationists, and others to ensure that stewardship of this important landscape is beneficial and enjoyable for all. 

Quotes of Support 

Chela Garcia-Irlando, Executive Director of the Next 100 Coalition:
The Next 100 Coalition is thrilled by the designation of Camp Hale as our nation’s newest national monument. A national monument at Camp Hale provides an important opportunity to recognize and learn the complex history of this segregated place, and to be intentional and accountable to the legacy created by the stewardship of our national public lands, which can significantly reflect the difficult and discriminatory moments in our nation’s history, including our military history.

Juan Pérez Sáez, Executive Director Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK):
The designation of Camp Hale–Continental Divide National Monument represents an opportunity to conserve one of Colorado’s most iconic landscapes. As an organization that serves more than 5,000 youth and their families predominantly from urban areas and with racially diverse identities, we see the immense value of protecting a piece of Colorado’s natural heritage, while addressing some of the most threatening issues of our lifetime, like water scarcity, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Kevin Webber, CEO of Carboy Winery:
We’re living in a time of both unprecedented challenges to our environment and natural landscapes, but also great opportunities. The designation of Camp Hale and the Continental Divide as a National Monument is an investment in preserving our way of life in Colorado. These protections will open opportunities for locals and tourists to explore, protect greenspace for wildlife habitats to thrive, and provide a glimpse into the historical importance of the 10th Mountain Division. By protecting the Divide, we are dreaming big for the future generations who will get to learn, live, and recreate in these special places, and we are thrilled that Colorado has great leaders like Senator Bennet and others in Congress, who are dedicated to making that dream a reality.

Colorado General Assembly Democrats

DENVER, CO – Representatives Julie McCluskie, Dylan Roberts, and Barbara McLachlan and Senator Kerry Donovan today celebrated President Biden’s executive action to protect hundreds of thousands of acres, including Camp Hale, the Tenmile Range and the Thompson Divide. 

The action protects lands included in the CORE Act – federal legislation sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Congressman Joe Neguse that would protect iconic public lands in Colorado, establish new wilderness areas and safeguard existing outdoor recreation opportunities to boost the state’s economy for future generations. 

On September 16, Representative McCluskie led 34 Colorado lawmakers in sending a letter to President Biden urging him to use the authority granted to him and his cabinet members to protect the public lands proposed for permanent protection in the CORE Act. 

“This executive action will preserve over hundreds of thousands of acres of critical wildlife, stunning mountains and beautiful rivers that are essential for recreation, conservation and our Colorado way of life,” said Representative Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “This is great news for Colorado and the Western Slope, and I’m grateful that President Biden has acted on our recommendations and the overwhelming support of our communities for this proposal. The new national monument will protect our environment and memorialize the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers who trained at Camp Hale and bravely served our nation.” 

“From Camp Hale where my grandfather trained with the 10th to the Thompson Divide, our public lands are what make Colorado great, and I am deeply grateful that President Biden listened to our request,” said Senator Kerry Donovan, D-Vail. “This important step will ensure some of our most treasured natural spaces remain open to the public and will help secure Colorado’s outdoor heritage for generations to come. My grandfather fell in love with Colorado at Camp Hale, and I know that experience will happen again and again thanks to this new protection.” 

“Today is a great day for Colorado. Thanks to today’s executive action and the voices of Coloradans across the Western Slope, hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness will be protected, including cherished landscapes in Eagle County as well as the historic Camp Hale,” said Representative Dylan Roberts, D-Avon. “This action will protect world-class recreation opportunities for biking, hiking and hunting that power our local economies. I’m grateful for the work of Senator Bennet and Congressman Neguse to get this done, and I’m excited that President Biden has acted on our recommendations from Democrats, Republicans, and Independent officials and residents across our region to protect these beautiful public lands.” 

“This executive action to protect thousands of acres of public land, including the Thompson Divide, is a huge win for conservation and historic preservation on the Western Slope,” said Representative Barabra McLachlan, D-Durango. “Our state’s stunning landscapes drive our economy and must be protected so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come. We’ve been working toward this for a long time because preserving these lands will strengthen our communities and protect our Colorado way of life.” 

“The bill has enjoyed longstanding and widespread support by a wide array of our constituents and it is past time for these remarkable public lands to be protected,” the lawmakers wrote. “While our advocacy on behalf of the legislation and our constituents will continue, the protection of these landscapes requires your immediate action. By conserving these lands, you will preserve a rich part of this country’s history through historic landmarks and objects of historic and scientific interest and we know it will provide a path for your administration to protect additional public lands in Colorado in the future.”

The full text of the letter is below and can be foundhere.

Mr. President: 
The undersigned Colorado state senators and representatives urge you to use the authority granted to you and your cabinet members to protect the public lands proposed for permanent protection in the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE Act). As you are aware, this request was recently made by CORE Act sponsors Senator Michael Bennet, Senator John Hickenlooper, and Representative Joe Neguse, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis. The bill has enjoyed longstanding and widespread support by a wide array of our constituents and it is past time for these remarkable public lands to be protected. 

In Colorado, we have a long history and commitment to public lands conservation. In January 2021, and for the first time in several years, we saw the Colorado public lands ethos shine through the priorities of the presidency when you committed the country to a first of its kind national conservation strategy. In a time when the impacts to public lands from climate change are rising and racial and economic inequities are expanding, the Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful conservation plan has never been needed more. By protecting the landscapes within the CORE Act through administrative action, you can secure progress towards the goals set forth in the American the Beautiful plan by taking action to protect Colorado’s public lands. 

Camp Hale and the surrounding Tenmile Range are incredibly deserving of permanent protection as a national monument under the Antiquities Act. The 10th Mountain Division trained across the landscape in preparation of high altitude warfare in the European Alps during World War II. The adjacent Tenmile Range was particularly integral to their training. Following the war, the soldiers who were lucky enough to have made their way home founded the US ski industry and the outdoor recreation economy that is now so vital to our state. There are few opportunities to experience and appreciate the history of World War II in our country and the sacrifices made by so many of its citizens. However, Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range are living artifacts to that sacrifice and they also happen to be some of our nations’ most beautiful public lands. 

Further west lies the Thompson Divide; another mountainous landscape that local ranchers and outdoor recreationists have spent years advocating to be protected from oil and gas development. Because the legislation has stalled in Congress, its left local advocates living under the veil of uncertainty. We urge your administration to protect the Thompson Divide landscape through a Federal Lands Policy and Management Act mineral withdrawal. Finally, we request your administration provide protections for the exemplary public lands in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains by working through the ongoing Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest Plan Revision. 

These landscapes are simply too important for conservation and historic and cultural preservation to become the subject of ephemeral political whims. The CORE Act, which includes the areas mentioned previously and more, already passed the House of Representative five times, only to meet repeated partisan obstacles in the United States Senate over the last several Congresses. While our advocacy on behalf of the legislation and our constituents will continue, the protection of these landscapes requires your immediate action. By conserving these lands, you will preserve a rich part of this country’s history through historic landmarks and objects of historic and scientific interest and we know it will provide a path for your administration to protect additional public lands in Colorado in the future. 
Thank you, 

Representative Julie McCluskie 
President Pro Tempore Kerry Donovan 
Representative Dylan Roberts         
Representative Barbara McLachlan 

Speaker Alec Garnett 
President Steve Fenberg 
House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar 
Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno 
Speaker Pro Tempore Adrienne Benavidez 
Senator Julie Gonzales 
Representative Meg Froelich 
Representative Lisa Cutter 
Representative Monica Duran 
Representative Brianna Titone 
Representative Judy Amabile 
Representative Tracey Bernett         
Representative Matt Gray 
Representative Shannon Bird 
Representative Steve Woodrow 
Representative David Ortiz 
Representative Karen McCormick 
Representative Mary Young 
Representative Chris Kennedy 
Representative Andrew Boesenecker 
Senator Rachel Zenzinger 
Representative Emily Sirota 
Representative Mike Weissman 
Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet 
Representative Cathy Kipp         
Representative Iman Jodeh 
Senator Chris Hansen 
Senator Chris Kolker 
Representative Edie Hooton                 
Senator Faith Winter

Center for Western Priorities

DENVER—President Biden today is expected to sign a proclamation creating the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado. The designation will mark the first time President Biden has used his authority under the Antiquities Act to create a new national monument. The monument will cover more than 53,000 acres, including the stunning Tenmile Range. During his visit, President Biden will also kickstart an environmental analysis and public comment period for withdrawing 225,000 acres in the nearby Thompson Divide area from potential mining or drilling.

In anticipation of the president’s signature, the Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“Thank you, President Biden, for honoring Camp Hale and the contributions of America’s veterans. The historic and ecological importance of the Continental Divide are forever connected. The reasons that soldiers came to Colorado to train for mountain warfare are the same reasons that this landscape deserves permanent protection.

“We’re also grateful that the Biden administration is moving ahead with protections for other areas in the CORE Act. A mineral withdrawal for the Thompson Divide is vital to ensure this landscape, which is too fragile to drill, will not be at further risk from fracking.

“Today’s proclamation is a downpayment on President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative. Protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by the end of the decade will require using every tool available, and the Antiquities Act is one of the most important. That’s why communities from Texas to California, Nevada to New York, are asking President Biden to keep protecting American landscapes.

“Over the next two years, President Biden has an opportunity to define his conservation legacy. By investing in our national monuments, we can tackle the climate and nature crises, address overcrowding in our parks, and create a 21st Century vision for America’s public lands.”


Trout Unlimited

“Starting as a historic military training ground to fight the Axis in WWII, Camp Hale’s 10th Mountain Division’s soldiers used their knowledge upon returning home to develop 64 different ski areas across the country,” said Jay Chancellor, Southwest Regional Director at Trout Unlimited. “Trout Unlimited commends the Biden Administration for not only preserving an important part of both our nation’s military and outdoor recreation heritage, but also ensuring that the quality trout water along the Eagle River remains protected for generations of anglers to come. We also support their consideration of separate protections for the Thompson Divide, where we have been advocating for important recreation opportunities and conservation efforts for years.”

Western Leaders Network

“President Biden preserved both history and public lands today by designating Colorado’s Camp Hale-Continental Divide as his first national monument. The Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, which includes the Tenmile Range, is historically, economically and environmentally significant to Coloradans, and we applaud President Biden for using the Antiquities Act to secure protections for these lands that support our local economies and wildlife, and once served as a training ground for our World War II veterans. Executive action such as this conserves public lands for all Americans to enjoy, protects biodiversity, and helps advance our national climate goals, so today’s designation is a victory that can be celebrated nationwide. This monument designation is a much-needed first step to protecting these lands, and we hope that Congress can ultimately come together to secure further protections for the area by passing the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act.” – Gwen Lachelt, Executive Director


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