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It’s been a long-anticipated goal. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) last week announced an amended management plan for the Browns Canyon National Monument.

The approved plan will guide the agencies’ oversight of recreation activities within the monument while allowing for infrastructure that will help protect monument resources in anticipation of increased visitation and recreational use.

Browns Canyon National Monuments, designated in 2015, encompasses more than 21,500 acres.

“The Browns Canyon National Monument Resource Management Plan (RMP) is a major milestone in the journey from a dream to a fully-realized National Monument,” commented Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker.

“The public, stakeholders, and user groups partnered with land managers to ensure the RMP balances recreation, grazing, travel, and realty uses with protecting the resources, objects, and values identified when the Monument was established in 2015,” added Baker. “Chaffee Countians can take great pride in process and product with the Browns Canyon National Monument Resource Management Plan.”

The BLM’s Royal Gorge Field Office manages 9,790 acres and the USFS Pike-San Isabel National Forests and Comanche-Cimarron National Grasslands (PSICC) manages 11,810 acres of the 21,600-acre monument. This plan revises a portion of the 1996 BLM Royal Gorge Resource Management Plan and amends the 1984 USFS PSICC Forest Plan.

“Under this Administration, the BLM has expanded access and recreational opportunities throughout the West,” said BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley. “This plan reflects extensive work with our federal and state partners, local communities, other stakeholders, and the public to develop this plan, which balances outdoor recreation opportunities and plans for the future of the monument and the anticipated increase in visitors that will come to experience this amazing place.”

The 17,922 acre Browns Canyon in Chaffee County is one of the areas that would receive permanent protection as part of the Colorado Wilderness Act. Photo by Bob Wick.

The RMP furthers a number of initiatives, including those found under Secretary’s Order 3347, Conservation Stewardship and Outdoor Recreation, and Secretary’s Order 3356, Hunting, Fishing, Recreation Shooting and Wildlife Conservation Opportunities and Coordination with States, Tribes and Territories.

These new Records of Decision adopt the agencies’ preferred alternative from the Proposed Resource Management Plan (RMP) released in April as the RMP for the monument.

This alternative is comprised of elements of the three draft alternatives and significantly incorporates cooperating agency input from the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife, Chaffee County, the City of Salida, the Town of Buena Vista, the public, and stakeholders. It incorporates management actions from a citizen’s alternative plan that has gained endorsement from cooperating agencies, businesses, and other organizations.

“The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service greatly appreciate all those who contributed to the Browns Canyon planning efforts, particularly members of the public, cooperating agencies, and state and local governments,” said BLM Royal Gorge Field Manager Keith Berger. “Extensive public interest and involvement in the planning process has helped ensure that the plan will sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the monument for present and future generations to use and enjoy.”

For the uninitiated, the Browns Canyon National Monument’s river corridor lies within the broader Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA). The Browns Canyon segment accounts for between 40-45 percent of the overall commercial river use in the AHRA and contributed approximately $30 million to Colorado’s economy in 2018.

The Records of Decision, the RMP, and associated documents are available online at https://go.usa.gov/xn2eC.

Featured photo courtesy of BrownsCanyon.org.