Biden Declares Important Environmental Protection Steps For Colorado’s Camp Hale and Thompson Divide


Denver Post

President Biden arrived in Colorado Wednesday, where he declared Camp Hale as a national landmark to protect the land from development.

Quinn Rudnick, Managing Editor

Camp Hale, a World War II military training site near Leadville, has been designated as a national monument as of Wednesday. The designation, delivered by President Biden, will protect the historic region’s plants and wildlife from any development.

Camp Hale represents Colorado’s contributions to the World War II effort, which included the training of 10th Mountain Division soldiers in skiing, snowshoeing and rock climbing. The development of these skills helped soldiers defeat the Axis forces in Italy. Camp Hale now provides a critical habitat for Colorado wildlife such as elk, lynx, songbirds, and deer. 

“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,” a White House statement said. 

Biden’s actions were widely supported, and the declaration was praised by Governor Jared Polis, Summit County Commissioner Elizabeth Lawrence, and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO).

“With every passing year, there are fewer World War II veterans who trained at Camp Hale left to tell their story,” Bennet said to the Denver Post. “Which is why it is so important that we protect this site now.”

Aaron Weiss, the deputy director of the advocacy group Center for Western Priorities, discussed how the Biden administration is not only protecting the state’s forests but also making up lost ground after the Trump administration cut the size of many national landmarks.

“This designation shows that President Biden is thinking about his conservation legacy, not just restoring the damage of the Trump years but laying the groundwork for his own legacy going forward,” Weiss said to the Washington Post. “It is our hope that Camp Hale is the first of many national monuments that the president protects.”

In addition to protecting Camp Hale, the Biden administration also announced plans to reserve 225,000 acres in the nearby Thompson Divide to prevent potential mining and drilling. The White House will collaborate with the Interior Department and Forest service, which both administer various aspects of the nation’s environmental protection programs, to prohibit energy development in the area for 20 years. 

A coalition of hunters, ranchers, farmers, outdoor enthusiasts and community leaders have worked for decades to ensure the Thompson Divide area is protected,” Deb Haaland, the Secretary for the Interior Department, said in a press release. “Today the Biden-Harris administration is taking an important and sensible step to ensure that we have the science and public input necessary to make informed decisions about sustainable management of public lands in the Thompson Divide area.”

The Biden Administration’s decision to declare Camp Hale as a national landmark will protect the land’s wildlife in addition to preserving its history. Protecting the camp and the Thompson divide has been recognized as an important step in the administration’s plan to protect more of the nation’s environment from development.

“Establishing these areas as a National Monument will bring great benefits to our Western mountain communities,” Lawrence said to the Washington Post. “And it is an important step towards providing our Western communities with a bright future while honoring the past.”