Both conservation and veterans groups successfully rallied for the protection of Camp Hale located in the Western Rockies.

Colorado Rockies Ranch Landscape

Jeff Goulden / Getty Images

President Biden announced Wednesday the creation of the The Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in an effort to conserve a piece of the Rockies that’s loaded with United States wartime history as well as magnificent wildlife. Located in Western Colorado between Leadville and Red Cliff, this rugged landscape is where the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division trained for alpine warfare for key operations during World War II. The region is also part of the ancestral lands of the native Ute Tribes.

According to the Sierra Club, the training area for the elite 10th Division, which lies at almost 10,000 feet in elevation, was used for both alpine and Nordic skiing, mountain climbing, and cold-weather survival skills in the deep snow. It included over 1,000 buildings, parade grounds, and a weapons range, and at its busiest housed some 15,000 soldiers who fought a decisive battle in Italy’s Apennine Mountains, helping the Allied powers defeat Nazi forces on Riva Ridge and Mt. Belvedere after several setbacks.

Many of the WWII veterans eventually returned to call this magnificent area of the Rockies home, helping create the area’s burgeoning ski tourism industry and were active in rallying the federal government for the new protections alongside conservation groups including the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Foundation, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Wilderness Society.

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Utilizing his power under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect historically significant areas, Biden also announced that he would be protecting 225,000 acres in the Thompson Divide area of western Colorado for at least two years and possibly for two decades, blocking new mining claims and mineral leases in the area. It is the first national monument he has created under this act, which allows the President to create monuments that protect areas of key ecological, cultural, or scientific significance. It also includes a movement to mitigate impacts of drought in the Colorado River Basin through the Inflation Reduction Act.

“This action will honor our nation’s veterans, Indigenous people, and their legacy by protecting this Colorado landscape while supporting jobs and America’s outdoor recreation economy,” the White House said in a statement. “By protecting this iconic area and proposing a mineral withdrawal for the Thompson Divide, the president is building on a series of steps the administration has taken to protect some of America’s most cherished lands and waters.”

Biden has also recently restored three other monuments that were declassified during the Trump Administration, including two in Utah and one in New England.

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