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Western Public Lands

Sportsmen commend Udall for considering permanent protection for Browns Canyon

Photo: Rafters in Browns Canyon- John Fielder, www.johnfielder.com

By Judith Kohler | 02.27.12
FRISCO, CO. – Hunters, anglers, rafters, and other outdoors enthusiasts who want to conserve what makes Browns Canyon special welcomed U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s announcement Sunday that he is launching an effort to permanently protect the area.

The rugged area in south-central Colorado is among the most scenic in the state, drawing nearly 270,000 commercial and private boaters on the Arkansas River last year and generating roughly $24 million in direct spending, said Bill Dvorak of Nathrop, an organizer with the National Wildlife Federation and fishing and rafting guide.

``Protection of Browns Canyon, arguably the most popular and scenic stretch of river in the U.S, is a no-brainer,’’ Dvorak said. ``Local residents and business owners have been trying for more than a decade, so the time to move forward is now.’’

Browns Canyon is a favorite of hunters and anglers, Dvorak added. Hunting and fishing produce another $3 million in direct expenditures for the Arkansas Valley economy, he said.

The Arkansas River was the highest grossing river for recreation and commercial trips in Colorado last year, accounting for an overall economic impact of about $60 million, according to estimates.

Photo: Browns Canyon- John Fielder, www.johnfielder.com

The area, with its granite canyons stretching along the Arkansas and unusual rock formations, is home to a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, elk, deer, bears and mountain lions. Udall will seek feedback from Coloradans about permanently protecting a total of 20,000 acres along the Arkansas, between Salida and Buena Vista. One possibility is classifying the spot as a national monument.

Udall is also considering a proposal to designate a total 236,000 acres in Eagle, Pitkin and Summit counties as wilderness areas.

Protecting Browns Canyon would maintain an important, sustainable part of the area economy, Dvorak said. Just as important, he added, is protecting air and water quality and wildlife and fish habitat at a time when increasing population and development are creating more demands on public lands.

Want to get involved? Click here to submit a comment to Senator Mark Udall about the Arkansas River Canyon National Monument and Browns Canyon Wilderness.


Photo: Browns Canyon- John Fielder, www.johnfielder.com

Contact: Judith Kohler, National Wildlife Federation, 303-619-5640, kohlerj@nwf.org,or Bill Dvorak, NWF, 719-221-3212, dvorakb@nwf.org.