April 3, 2012–Proposals by Sen. Mark Udall to create a Browns Canyon national monument and wilderness area received endorsements from Monarch Mountain, Salida Business Alliance and Colorado River Outfitters Association of Buena Vista.
Distribution lists in the letters indicate copies were also sent to 5th Congressional District Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar.
Representatives from Udall’s office forwarded the letters of support to The Mountain Mail Monday.
In the letter from the Salida Business Alliance, Vickie Sue Vigil, alliance president, said Salida businesses chose to support the plans because Browns Canyon is the “most popular whitewater rafting destination in the nation.
“By preserving this incredible landscape that surrounds the river, we can ensure that visitors continue to benefit from inspiring recreational experiences and continue to sustain and grow our local and regional economy.”
Members of the alliance “strongly support” protecting the area, Vigil said, because member businesses benefit from visitors enjoying recreational activities in areas like Browns Canyon.
In another letter, Greg Ralph, Monarch Mountain marketing director, referred to bipartisan efforts to protect the area and said, as a business, Monarch is “dependent on the area for economic security.”
Tom Kleinschnitz, chairman of the outfitters association, said whitewater sports in the Browns Canyon region account for “over $23 million in direct expenditures for a total economic impact of over $60 million in the Arkansas Valley annually.”
Vigil said she was one of several Chaffee County businesses and organizations who received a form letter from Friends of Browns Canyon to send to Udall.
Friends of Browns Canyon representative Michael Kunkel of Salida said more than 130 local businesses and 30 organizations volunteered to sign letters of support for the national monument.
Kunkel said those letters will be submitted to Udall.
“We suggested a form letter for the sake of expediency,” Kunkel said. “Not all of the letters are form letters. We have been working on this project for the last couple of years.”
Udall will meet with Chaffee County commissioners, community and business leaders, and members of the press during a visit to the county April 3.
He will also attend an invitation-only roundtable discussion of the proposed Brown’s Canyon national monument and wilderness protection plans at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort pavilion in Nathrop.