A coalition of sportsmen’s groups this week announced a new push to protect Brown’s Canyon, a unique natural and economic resource, as a national monument.
Browns Canyon, on the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida, has long been a favorite destination for hunters and anglers, said the Sportsmen for Browns Canyon group. The rugged granite cliffs and backcountry forests provide critical habitat for elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lion and black bear. And each year, thousands of rafters and anglers float the upper Arkansas River through Browns. The canyon section is an outstanding wild trout fishery that was recently designated Gold Medal status by the state of Colorado—part of the longest stretch of Gold Medal waters in the state.
“Browns Canyon is a special place for sportsmen,” said Kyle Perkins, Trout Unlimited’s organizer of the Sportsmen for Browns Canyon campaign. “We just want to keep it the way it is—wild and pristine.”
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall has introduced legislation that would designate Browns Canyon a national monument and protect—for all time—the 22,000-acre backcountry area and its current mixed uses, which include hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, off-highway vehicle use, wood-gathering, grazing, and horseback riding. Besides preserving vital fish and wildlife habitat, the monument designation would also be an economic boon for the Arkansas River valley and the state, which depend on tourism and recreation dollars.
For decades, the BLM has managed Browns Canyon as a wilderness study area, a designation that prevents mining and development. But in 2011, the mining ban expired, and several gold mining interests have filed claims along the river that, if developed, could damage or destroy wildlife habitat in Browns Canyon—and the hunting and fishing opportunities that go with it.
“That sent off alarm bells,” said Perkins. “As hunters and anglers, we have to protect this place or risk losing it.”
Sportsmen for Browns Canyon this week launched a new website, which will help rally hunters and anglers to support monument protections for the canyon. Several prominent hunting and fishing businesses and sportsmen conservation groups have already signed on to the campaign, including Colorado Trout Unlimited, Ross Reels, Fishpond, Umpqua, RepYourWater, Scott Rods, Colorado Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, , Bull Moose Sportsmen, and Anglers Covey.
“The outdoor recreation Industry is big business, and nationally, it is double the size of the auto industry,” said David Leinweber, owner of Angler’s Covey, a fly-fishing shop in Colorado Springs. “A monument would help protect this resource and grow our local recreation economy.”
“The immediate need is for sportsmen and women to speak up and tell our leaders that Browns Canyon must be protected,” said Perkins. For more information, and to sign up to join the coalition, please visit www.sportsmenforbrowns.com or contact Kyle Perkins at [email protected].
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s largest coldwater conservation organization, with 150,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Colorado Trout Unlimited has 11,000 grassroots members across the state. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org