Letter: Protect Camp Hale, surroundings
On Jan. 21, I stood in the cold, high altitude at Camp Hale with approximately 50 other hardy individuals and one particularly rugged individual, 94-year-old Sandy Tweet.
Mr. Tweet is one of the last 30 surviving men of 15,000 who trained for the United States during WWII at the Tenth Mountain Division’s Camp Hale. Mr. Tweet was attending and skiing for Dartmouth in New Hampshire when he joined the Army and returned there to continue his education after being discharged.
In 2015, Congressman Jared Polis introduced the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act (HR 2554) to protect wilderness lands in this area and make Camp Hale the first National Historic Landscape, protecting the historical, ecological and recreational values of this landscape.
This area, west of the Continental Divide, supplies 80 percent of Colorado’s clean water and is the headwaters for the Eagle River. Three water providers are partnered with this measure: Eagle County Water, Colorado Springs and the Denver Water Board, as well as over 200 private businesses.
This area is home to the land bridge corridor near Porcupine Gulch, which is considered the major wildlife migration route from Canada down to Mexico. Statistical data from Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimate wildlife population numbers in this and surrounding game management units for moose number 370, bighorn sheep 455, mountain goats 65, with elk, deer, bear and even lynx also calling this area home.
Becoming a National Historic Landscape, outdoor recreational opportunities such as mountain biking, backcountry skiing, hiking, fishing and hunting will continue. Critical Colorado clean water preservation can be safeguarded, as well as the protection of Camp Hale, which was the most expensive WWII military facility to be built and maintained. At its peak, Camp Hale had 800 coal-burning dwellings, more than 4,000 mules, horses, sled dogs, and thousands of American patriots.
I ask that Sen. Cory Gardner help protect this vital historical land which all Americans value, plus the recreational opportunities that help drive local economies.
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