Camp Hale Proclamation is a Big Win for Recreation

On October 12, 2022, President Biden signed a Proclamation designating more than 53,000 acres outside Minturn, Colorado as the Camp Hale/Continental Divide National Monument. In this Proclamation, summer and winter motorized usage of the area was specifically protected, and no limitation on road or trail construction was mandated.   When compared to various Legislative proposals for management of the area over the last decade, this Proclamation was a major step in protecting important recreational opportunities in Camp Hale.

The scale of this win is apparent after even a brief comparison of the various Legislative management proposals for the Camp Hale area including the Congressional designation of most of these areas as Wilderness under the Hidden Gems Proposal.  This would have prohibited all motorized usage permanently.  Subsequent Legislative Proposals then sought to designate large portions of the Camp Hale Area as a National Historic Area, mandating no new trails be allowed and only recognizing snowmobile usage as a characteristic of the area. Under the Proclamation, there is no cap on trail development, and all forms of motorized usage are protected.

Recent Legislative efforts also have identified more than 200,000 acres known as the Thompson Divide area for management targeting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This generalized requirement was very concerning as motorized recreation is directly tied to the production of very small amounts of greenhouse gasses.  This requirement posed a serious long-term threat to the motorized usage of the Thompson Divide area. Under the Proclamation, this threat was removed as the Thompson Divide area was excluded from oil and gas leasing for the next 20 years instead of the permanent Legislative designation requiring mitigation of greenhouse gasses as a management goal.

The tens of thousands of comments you have submitted on this issue have had a major impact on motorized recreation in the entire area. The Camp Hale effort is far from over as a management plan for the Monument must now be developed, but this effort will start with the requirement motorized access is protected in the area. We will also be able to approach future Wilderness Proposals with a clear recognition from the President that previously proposed Legislative protections for recreation were insufficient to be supported by a larger group. We hope this will result in more recreational benefits in the future as extreme proposals have not been supported. The win for motorized usage from the Proclamation should not be overlooked.