President Biden designates Camp Hale as newest national monument

Colorado’s political leaders had mixed reactions
Deteriorated buildings at Camp Hale near Vail, Colo., on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. The camp was...
Deteriorated buildings at Camp Hale near Vail, Colo., on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. The camp was where soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division trained in the harsh, wintry conditions of the Rocky Mountains in preparation for fighting in the Italian Alps during World War II. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)(Thomas Peipert | AP)
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 11:08 AM MDT
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CAMP HALE, Colo. (KKCO) - President Biden headed out west earlier today in a three-state tour, stopping in Colorado to declare the nation’s newest national monument.

Camp Hale will be given the official title of Camp Hale - Continental Divide National Monument.

The monument’s designation has been met with mixed responses from Colorado’s political leaders. Democrat Senator Michael Bennet was one of the most outspoken supporters of the monument’s creation, and lauded President Biden’s decision.

“I can think of no better choice for President Biden’s first national monument than Camp Hale-Continental Divide. This designation will permanently protect Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range, the iconic site where the 10th Mountain Division trained to fight in World War II and later returned to found much of Colorado’s ski industry,” said Sen. Bennet. “With every passing year, there are fewer World War II veterans who trained at Camp Hale left to tell their story, which is why it is so important that we protect this site now.”

Representative Lauren Boebert, a vocal critic of the monument, stated that she believes that restricting resource extraction on the 280,000 acre monument will negatively impact American consumers and business interests.

“Rather than working on real issues like reducing inflation and improving the economy, Joe Biden came to Colorado today to unilaterally lock up hundreds of thousands of acres through the stroke of his pen and prevent Coloradans from using our public lands for activities that we want and need,” said Rep. Boebert. “With gas prices skyrocketing, OPEC decreasing its oil production, and Americans already struggling to pay their utility bills, this land grab to shut down American energy and natural resources production could not come at a worse time.”

Democrat John Hickenlooper also voiced his support, highlighting support from veterans organizations and town governments.

“Camp Hale is being protected thanks to the efforts of 10th Mountain Division veterans and local Coloradans who want to see these historic, breathtaking lands protected for generations to come,” said Hickenlooper. “From the beginning, Senator Bennet’s CORE Act has been about helping communities protect their public lands. Today’s designation continues that effort.”

The Colorado GOP also expressed disdain for the proclamation, calling it in a press release “the definition of an election year stunt designed to try and save a failing Democrat career politician from losing.”

Vet Voice Foundation CEO Janessa Goldbeck issued a statement of her support. “We want to offer our sincere thanks to President Biden, Secretary Haaland, and others in the administration who made this designation a reality,” said Goldbeck. “Few places epitomize the connection between Veterans and our nation’s public lands quite like Camp Hale, a former training site for the U.S. Army – most notably for the 10th Mountain Division – where Soldiers learned to fight in cold weather conditions. After World War II ended, some of those very same Veterans returned to these areas and helped launch the ski industry and modern outdoor recreation economy of Colorado.”

Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee, threw in his support for the new monument.

“For over a decade, Colorado’s mountain and rural communities, small businesses, recreation groups, ranchers and conservationists have worked together in an effort to protect our public lands, honor the legacy of Camp Hale and secure outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Today, I join with all Coloradans in applauding President Biden’s decision to name Camp Hale as this country’s newest national monument. Today’s decision will ensure that this treasured landscape is protected for generations to come.”

President Biden also announced that 200,000 acres of BLM land in Garfield, Gunnison, and Pitkin Counties would be opened to mining operations.

Camp Hale was first constructed in 1942 to train the 10th Mountain Division, a regiment of soldiers specially trained in mountain climbing, Alpine and Nordic skiing, and cold weather survival.