Forum participants

Forum participants draw and mark on a map of Browns Canyon National Monumnent. The maps will partly be used to determine popular destinations in the monument and to create a more comprehensive user map of the area.

The U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife hosted a listening session Tuesday night at Buena Vista High School in order to solicit input as the agencies begin drafting a management plan for Browns Canyon National Monument.

Forum moderators broke the approximately 40 participants into small groups, which spent the 2-hour session marking on maps, filling out questionnaires and discussing various aspects of the national monument.

“This is really a new way to collecting information. It’s innovative and it’s helping us better grasp information from you folks,” Ben Lara with the Salida Ranger District said about the listening session. “Today is a great opportunity for you all to provide feedback.”

The forum was designed for individual input which took place in small groups scattered around the room. Each participant was assigned a table at the beginning of the night and participants held small group discussions during the meeting.

Questions asked of participants included, “How do you know Browns Canyon;” “What connects you to the area;” and “Why is it (national monument) special or important to you?”

Brian Busse, a star on the TV show ‘Prospectors,’ said initially he was opposed to the national monument dedication but said he is now in favor of it.

“I care about the area and I want to see it developed properly,” Busse said. “At first I wasn’t in support and now I am. I just want to see it done right.”

Chaffee County resident Louis Walton said she has lived in the area for 50 years and is a member of the Buena Vista Trails board. She said she’s seen a lot of changes to the monument over the years but said ultimately the primitive wilderness is very similar to what it was 50 years ago.

Craig Anderson, owner of Rocky Mountain Jeep Rentals in Salida, said his interest in the area was both personally and business wise, adding he would like to see more motorized off-road access on some of the monument’s older roads.

“My interest in the area is not necessarily the river side, it’s the east access to the monument. Business wise and personally, I would like to see some of these older roads opened up,” he said. “It’s very important for us to have a usable national monument so close to us.”

Local photographer Logan Meyers said it was the monument’s plant life, geology, river and solitude that was most special for him.

Following the listening session, participants were asked to mark various locations on a map of Browns Canyon and identify places they frequent or places of particular interest to them. Lara said participants could also include areas outside of the national monument, like the Fourmile Travel Management Area.

Geography graduate student at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Becky Gromewold, is part of the team that will compile and track all of the information marked on the maps from the five listening sessions. She said this was to form a more comprehensive understanding of the areas people most frequently use and recreate in.

Following the listening sessions, the data will be analyzed by geographers and compiled into a report which should be available early next year.

Buena Vista’s listening session was the final of the five sessions that took place across the state over the previous couple of months.

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