Senator Udall's Browns Canyon Wilderness Proposal

Jun 20, 2012

EcoFlight recently flew The Wilderness Society and the Friends of Browns Canyon with business owners, motorized and non-motorized recreationists, local elected officials and the press over lands included in the Arkansas River Canyon National Monument and Browns Canyon Wilderness proposals.

For a number of years, citizens have actively pursued the review, management and protection of Browns Canyon as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. These 20,000 acres offer excellent primitive recreation and hunting for those who understand and enjoy the solitude and value of wilderness. It is one of the few low-elevation semi-desert areas in Colorado, accessible during fall, winter and spring. Fortunately, the area is free from timber, mineral and water conflicts. It is important winter range habitat for about 50 head of bighorn sheep as well as elk, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion and smaller wildlife. This section of the Arkansas River is a destination for whitewater rafters. It is the busiest stretch of river, with over 90,000 visitor days per year. Protection of the surrounding wildlands will benefit these visitors and the tourism industry they support.


In March of 2012 Senator Mark Udall announced a community-driven process that could ultimately designate Arkansas River Canyon as a national monument and the adjacent Browns Canyon as a wilderness area. He has proposed a series of three map versions that include different boundaries and varying acreages, which are available online for public comment. Your perspective and your comments are an important part of the process and you can help protect some of our best-loved river rafting spots along the iconic Arkansas River between Salida and Buena Vista. The official designation would literally put the region on the map, drawing more visitors to the area's world-class outdoor recreation opportunities and supporting the local tourism economy.


From the air, passengers saw the proposal area as a whole and how it relates to the greater landscape. We hope the aerial perspective informs opinions and inspires citizens to get involved and comment on Udall’s online maps.