Keep those cards and letters coming, but key support for keeping the Canyons of the Ancients a national monument in Southwest Colorado are likely to prevent any changes from occurring.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton wrote Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking that no changes be made during the administration’s review of controversial monument listings using the Antiquities Act.
Although the monument was designated by former President Clinton with little support at the time, it appears the locals have embraced the changes over the past 17 years.
The designation of Canyons is an example of what the Antiquities Act was intended to do — protect cultural treasures while incorporating the historic use of the land in to the management of the monument so that communities support and promote the designation.
It is also an example of consequences that are often not considered by administrations when contemplating these designations: existing funding levels are often times not adequate to support the increase in tourism a designation may bring with it; existing infrastructure that is incapable of accommodating the increased tourism; and land management agencies’ resources being diverted from traditional roles, like permitting of oil and gas or grazing leases to other functions necessary to maintain the monument.
This monument should be saved, because Montezuma County tackled all of those challenges and forged ahead with the BLM to make what was once controversial, a success.
Monument supporters can breathe easier now with Tipton and Gardner on their side.