Browns Canyon in Chaffee County will be designated a National Monument by President Obama on Thursday.
Conservationists, community leaders and businesses are praising the move, which comes after years of work to secure the designation. It covers a 22,000-acre stretch of public land along the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida known for recreational opportunities.
Keith Baker heads the non-profit group Friends of Browns Canyon.
"It means that this landscape has an extra level of protection that it hasn’t enjoyed before," says Baker. "And it means that our local economy will benefit from the National Monument designation."
Baker says management will stay with the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
National monuments can be created through acts of Congress, but legislation there stalled. That prompted executive action.
While Colorado’s Senators applaud the move, Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn calls it a government land grab.