In a move long anticipated by outfitters on the Arkansas River, President Obama created the 21,000 acre Browns Canyon National Monument on February 19, 2015. Many Arkansas River outfitters supported the proclamation. Supporters feel comfortable that commercial rafting activities will get a boost from the new monument. Former Senator Udall’s proposed legislation, which was not passed in the 113th Congress, did not include the Arkansas River within the monument’s boundaries. The White House said they were replicating those boundaries with minor adjustments. Grazing rights are also supposed to be grandfathered-in, according to the White House. Some stock growers have doubts.
National Monuments are automatically part of the Bureau of Land Management’s National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), which was authorized to preserve landscapes with outstanding cultural, ecological and scientific values. NLCS areas are also managed for the values contained in the designation or proclamation. If recreation is in the proclamation as expected, commercial rafting opportunities should be preserved. If the Arkansas River is outside the boundaries then the State is likely to continue to manage rafting.
Colorado Republican Representatives Lamborn and Buck criticized the move as did Representative Bishop who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources. Former Republican representative Joel Hefley from Colorado's 5th District and the Mayor of Buena Vista, Colorado praised the President's actions.