Colorado Springs, Colo. (May 25, 2018) – Just days before Memorial Day, 395 Colorado veterans signed a letter to Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) urging him to cosponsor the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act (S. 2337). The legislation was introduced by Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Jared Polis, and would designate Camp Hale – the home of the WWII-era training camp of the famed 10th Mountain Division – as America’s first National Historic Landscape. The Act would also preserve other lands in Eagle and Summit counties as recreation management areas, wilderness, and wildlife conservation areas, protecting a total of 98,621 acres of the White River National Forest for future generations to enjoy.
“Honoring the 10th Mountain Division is long overdue, given their sacrifice to our country and their contribution to our state,” said Matt Styss, a veteran from Cascade, CO. “Now it is time for Senator Gardner to honor the Greatest Generation and designate Camp Hale as our nation’s first National Historic Landscape.”
In addition to playing a critical part in winning the war, 10th Mountain Division veterans also played an important role in the development of the ski industry, turning a niche sport into one of the nation’s most popular forms of recreation. After the war, the soldiers who trained at Camp Hale came home and founded some the world-renown ski resorts in Colorado’s central mountains. Today, outdoor recreation is critical to Colorado’s economy, generating $28 billion in consumer spending and creating 229,000 jobs that pay $9.7 billion in salaries and wages.
Mike Marion, a Colorado native, and U.S. Army veteran added, “There is a strong and definitive connection between Colorado’s outdoor recreation economic success and the 10th Mountain Division. Colorado is a national leader in public lands conservation and outdoor recreation, and I encourage Senator Gardner to honor that by cosponsoring the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act.”
Protected public lands are critically important to veterans. After returning from deployments, many veterans find peace, strength, and resilience in Colorado’s mountains, rivers, and forests. Veterans find camaraderie with fellow veterans and reconnect with their families and friends on public lands. Whether it is hiking, camping, rafting, hunting, or fishing, Colorado’s public lands have proven to be a priceless asset for America’s veterans.
“Protecting Camp Hale and the surrounding area is way to honor generations of veterans, from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom. Our public lands and the freedoms they represent define our nation, and I fought to defend that. Today I continue that fight by working to preserve Camp Hale and I hope Senator Gardner will join me and my fellow veterans,” added Bradley Noone, a 10th Mountain Division Veteran.
The letter to Senator Gardner closes with these words from the 395 Colorado veterans:
As veterans, we fought to protect our country, including our precious public lands. Like the veterans of the 10th Mountain Division, we find strength and resilience from being on our protected lands and waters. We ask that you support the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness, and Camp Hale Legacy Act so that future generations may learn its significant history and enjoy its natural beauty.
To view the letter and signers, please visit: http://bit.ly/2IIaGTk