In 2012 and 2013, Rock the Earth partnered with The Wilderness Society to educate and activate thousands of music fans about the amazing ecosystem that is Browns Canyon. Browns Canyon of the Arkansas River, located 2.5 hours south of Denver, has a stunning combination of natural beauty and recreational opportunities that define Colorado’s outdoor legacy. The ridges of the canyon offer magnificent, sweeping views across the canyon to 14,000-foot peaks of the Sawatch Range. On the canyon floor, the Arkansas River cuts through rugged gulches of pinkish granite.
On February 19, 2015, President Obama declared Browns Canyon a federally and permanently protected National Monument.
Browns Canyon provides opportunities for people to explore the outdoors year round, whether its whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing, climbing, wildlife watching or hiking.
As one of the few areas of public land in Colorado located at mid-elevation, Browns Canyon provides critical winter range for deer, elk and bighorn sheep. Keeping this landscape undeveloped will protect this tremendous habitat and ensure that Browns Canyon continues to be a destination area for outdoor activities of all kinds.
Browns Canyon is the most popular destination in the country for whitewater rafting. According to the Colorado River Outfitters Association (CROA), commercial rafting on Arkansas River, which that runs through Browns Canyon, brings in roughly $60 million to the economy. The stretch of the Arkansas River that runs through Browns Canyon was awarded “Gold Medal” status by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission for having the highest quality cold-water fish habitats accessible to the public and great potential for trophy trout fishing.
Protecting Browns Canyon as a National Monument is crucial to the economic health of river outfitters, local businesses and the surrounding communities.
The national monument has a broad range of supporters − from hunters and anglers, to businesses and conservation groups, and veterans and youth groups.
National Monument designation ensures that the outdoor recreation opportunities remain available for future generations of whitewater rafters, sportsmen and explorers. It also makes sure that no new roads that would damage the area’s watershed or wildlife habitat will be built.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and then-U.S. Sen. Mark Udall tried to pass legislation that would have preserved a similar area near Salida, but the bill failed to advance through Congress. Now that President Obama has utilized his executive authority under the Antiquities Act, two federal agencies, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, will co-manage the land.
“We are incredibly proud to have played a key role in convincing the politicians that there is a groundswell of citizen support for the protection of Browns Canyon,” says Executive Director Marc Ross. “This is the second time in our 10-year history that Rock the Earth’s constituents played a key role in the establishment of a National Monument and the second time in the past year where significant wilderness areas were protected for future generations thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and supporters.”