Browns Canyon is much more than a single scenic canyon through which the Arkansas River flows. In actuality it’s a complex network of extremely rugged canyons and rock formations; some which are nearly inaccessible.

This type of terrain is very unusual in Colorado, especially in the middle of the state. Because of its new notoriety and central location, the new Browns Canyon National Monument is in danger of experiencing overuse in some areas, misuse by some user groups and creating negative impacts to the surrounding private and county properties.

Although many of its members have been involved with protecting the area since the 1970s, the Friends of Browns Canyon group was formed in 2003 and became a non-profit organization in 2012 to pursue permanent protection of this spectacular network of canyons.

Now that this has occurred in the form of designation as a national monument, FOBC is involved in assisting the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area in developing a management plan for the new national monument.

This project is expected to take 3 years and will involve considerable community, stakeholder, and local organization input.

The Browns Canyon area is an important amenity in Chaffee and Lake counties for several reasons.

First, it provides recreational activity in the form of rafting, kayaking, hiking, camping, fishing and wildlife viewing in a location that is convenient not only to tourists and local residents, but also to those living in the Front Range.

Educational groups from the local area and the Front Range have the opportunity to visit the kind of lower altitude rocky canyon terrain in Browns Canyon National Monument that would otherwise require a trip to Utah to see.

The Monument also encompasses a wilderness study area of a kind that is rare in Colorado. Most designated wilderness areas in the state are mountaintop wildernesses of a high alpine character.

Brown Canyon provides area economic and environmental benefits as well.

Headwater Economics research organization has found that communities adjacent to a newly created national monument experienced a growth in economic indicators following designation of the monument.

It is expected the new national monument will increase the number of visitor days in the area as well as add variety to the list of activities.

The monument also helps protect the water quality of the Arkansas River; an important source of water to the region, downstream users, and downstream states.

As guardian to the Browns Canyon National Monument, the FOBC feels it is vitally important to continue its work to protect the area and ensure that the management plan for the monument is developed in a way that provides well thought out visitor access and education while protecting the scenic beauty and wildlife habitat.

FOBC will continue its long term commitment to the long-term stewardship and conservation of Browns Canyon National Monument.

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