The following Op:Ed was published by the Colorado Springs Independent on 1/7/15
Our country has an incredible and unmatched protected public lands legacy that allows hunters, anglers, hikers, backpackers, outfitters, equestrians and others the opportunity to experience parts of our country as they were in the days of Lewis and Clark and, more recently, Theodore Roosevelt. One such area is Browns Canyon, a scenic and rugged region in Chaffee County between Salida and Buena Vista on the Arkansas River.
In 2005, former Fifth Congressional District Rep. Joel Hefley, a Republican, sponsored a bill to designate Browns Canyon a national wilderness area. Unfortunately, despite continued widespread support for protecting Browns Canyon, the current partisan paralysis in Congress has prevented a wilderness bill from moving forward.
Fortunately, there's another option: a national monument designation. It was a hunter-conservationist (and Medal of Honor recipient), Teddy Roosevelt, who is responsible for much of the public lands heritage Americans enjoy today.
Roosevelt made Devils Tower in Wyoming the first national monument on Sept. 24, 1906. Since then, more than 100 national monuments have been established by presidents under the authority of the Antiquities Act. The president of the United States can establish a national monument by executive order, or Congress can by legislation.
George W. Bush, for example, used the Antiquities Act for a breathtaking conservation achievement — protecting some 200 million acres of islands and territorial ocean waters that hold geological curiosities, archaeological artifacts and spectacular marine wildlife. Now it appears that President Obama is poised to follow in George W. Bush's and Teddy Roosevelt's footsteps here in Colorado, by designating Browns Canyon a national monument.
Protecting our American heritage is an act of patriotism. Our heritage helps us appreciate our country's special place in history. The Republicans who passed the Antiquities Act and the presidents who used the law understood that. So does President Obama.
— David A. Lien
Chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers