We Just Got a New National Monument!

Last week, President Joe Biden declared Camp Hale a national monument, the first of his presidency.

In the presence of local supporters, President Joe Biden signed a declaration establishing Camp Hale — Continental Divide National Monument.

He announced the designation of the national monument in the Colorado Rockies to preserve a piece of history and an ecosystem of magnificent wildlife.

The Army’s mountain home

The Western Colorado landscape is home to a rugged alpine region where the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division trained for key operations during World War II. It is also part of the ancestral lands of the native Ute Tribes. 

The area is located at a 10,000 feet elevation. The US Army used it for several activities, including Nordic skiing, mountain climbing, and cold-weather survival.

It was a huge military base with over 1,000 buildings, parade grounds, and a weapons range. At its busiest, it housed 15,000 soldiers who fought on Riva Ridge and Mt. Belvedere in Italy’s Apennine Mountains, helping the Allied powers defeat Nazi forces.

Many veterans of World War II moved to Colorado after the war, helping create ski tourism in the Rockies. They actively rallied for new protections for the area alongside conservation groups like the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Foundation, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Wilderness Society.

Preserving iconic areas and supporting jobs

Biden also announced that he was using his power under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect 225,000 acres in the Thompson Divide area of western Colorado from new mining claims and mineral leases for at least two years and possibly for two decades.

He used the Antiquities Act for the first time to establish a national monument, protecting an area of key ecological, cultural, and scientific significance. He also signed an Inflation Reduction Act that would lessen the impacts of drought in the Colorado River Basin.

The White House stated, “This action will honor our nation’s veterans, Indigenous people, and their legacy by protecting this Colorado landscape while supporting jobs and America’s outdoor recreation economy. By protecting this iconic area and proposing a mineral withdrawal for the Thompson Divide, the president is building on a series of steps the administration has taken to protect some of America’s most cherished lands and waters.”

Earlier this year, Biden also restored three other monuments that were declassified during the Trump Administration, including two in Utah and one in New England.