Mark Udall welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to designate Chimney Rock a national monument under the Antiquities Act, calling it a win for the local economy and job creation.
"This designation, which I have repeatedly pushed for, is a win-win for the people of southwest Colorado," Udall said. "In addition to drawing tourists to the area, the designation will create jobs and fuel economic growth in Pagosa Springs and surrounding communities."
Udall joined with Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Scott Tipton earlier this year to ask the president to explore all options that would give Chimney Rock the recognition and protection it deserves by making it a national monument. Udall and Bennet also heralded an economic study that came out in July that showed how a national monument designation for the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area would double the economic impact Chimney Rock has on the region and bring an additional $1.2 million to the area.
The national monument designation had broad bipartisan support from organizations across the region, including the Archuleta County Commission and the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Chimney Rock is located west of Pagosa Springs in southwest Colorado's Archuleta County. The 4,700-acre site located on San Juan National Forest land is recognized as perhaps the most significant historical site managed by the entire U.S. Forest Service.
Between A.D. 900 and A.D. 1150, the ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians occupied the surrounding lands, and the site remains of cultural significance to many descendant tribes. Hundreds of cultural elements surround Chimney Rock's soaring twin rock spires, including the Great House Pueblo. Every 18.6 years the moon, as seen from the Great House Pueblo, rises between the rock spires during an event known as the Northern Lunar Standstill.
The Antiquities Act of 1906 grants the president the authority to proclaim, by executive order, sites of historical significance as national monuments, garnering protection.