Salida

Bob Wick, BLM California / BLM Flickr / Creative Commons

A last-minute change to an indoor venue due to stormy weather couldn't keep folks away from a dedication ceremony Saturday for Colorado's newest National Monument.  Supporters gathered in bleachers at the Buena Vista High School gym to hear from local, state, and federal officials as they celebrated the designation.
 

The nearly 22,000-acres of public land that stretches from Buena Vista to Salida in Chaffee County along the Arkansas River is well known for its recreation and wildlife. 

Private landowners can now sign up for classes focusing on how to conduct safer pile burns. KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.
 

Those who complete the course become certified burners and will also be protected on a limited basis from civil liability.

"It’s not just a simple go out and light the match. There’s a lot of steps that go into prescribed fire,” said Mike Frary, Unit Chief for Prescribed Fire for the Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

Bob Wick, BLM California / BLM Flickr / Creative Commons

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.

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, or AHRA, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary today. The region spans 152 miles of the Arkansas River and saw over 711,000 visitors last year.

AHRA program assistant Rose Bayless says in its 25 years, the area has provided an outlet for outdoor recreation that the public didn’t have before, including boating and fishing.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

A two-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Salida has reopened to boaters.  It closed at the beginning of June due high waters that caused a hazard at a recently constructed boat chute.  The portage trail used to bypass the chute had also become impassable.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

A two-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Salida continues to remain restricted due to dangerous conditions. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.

Recent high waters and a new diversion structure in the river have raised safety concerns near Silver Bullet Boat Chute near Johnson Village. The diversion structure is creating unusually strong currents, and the reentry point on the portage trail that’s used to allow boaters to go around the chute is currently impassable due to high water levels. The area is restricted to only whitewater kayaks and canoes.

Friends of Browns Canyon

Senator Mark Udall is expected in Chaffee County today to unveil new proposed legislation that looks to declare Browns Canyon a national monument and wilderness area. KRCC’s Maggie Spencer has more.
 

The Arkansas River runs through Browns Canyon, and if passed, the bill would declare 22,000 acres of land from Nathrop to Salida a national monument and an additional 10,500 acres as protected wilderness.