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Obama signs legislation designating Colorado canyon a national monument

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 00:36

President Obama signed the Antiquities Act legislation designating Colorado's Browns Canyon a national monument. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Obama signed the Antiquities Act legislation on Wednesday designating Colorado's Browns Canyon a national monument. He signed the legislation at the Oval Office before boarding Air Force One to head to the canyon in Colorado, a picturesque gorge in the Rocky Mountains some 90 miles west of Colorado Springs, where he will make the official designation. Obama will name two other sites around the country as national monuments, including Chicago's Pullman district, famed in the history of the U.S. civil rights movement. He heads there on Wednesday after his stop in Colorado. The third designation is a site in Hawaii where Japanese-Americans were held in internment camps during World War Two. Listing something as a national monument places it among a wide range of protected areas managed by federal agencies that include battlefields, recreation areas and cultural sites. The designation of Browns Canyon, a rugged landscape of gulches, cliffs, forests and meadows that is home to elk, black bears and mountain lions, as well as eagles and falcons, had been sought unsuccessfully by Colorado lawmakers in the past. For hikers, the canyon provides striking views of some of Colorado's Fourteeners - mountains taller than 14,000 feet and it has become especially popular with whitewater rafters who ride the Arkansas River that churns through it. Collin O'Mara, head of the National Wildlife Federation, praised Obama's move and said in a statement that it means outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy "a conservation jewel" for generations to come. But it drew fierce criticism from some Republican lawmakers who called it an abuse of office. "I am outraged. ... This is a top-down, big government land grab by the President," U.S. congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs said on Wednesday, adding that locals' concerns over issues such as grazing and water rights were not addressed. "My message to the President is cut it out," said another Republican U.S. congressman from Colorado, Ken Buck of Windsor. "He is not king. No more acting like King Barack." Republican U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, meanwhile, said the canyon was a "national treasure," and he praised the Democratic incumbent he ousted in November, former U.S. Senator Mark Udall, for being a champion of previous attempts to protect it. Gardner said he will introduce legislation in the coming days "to ensure that Colorado's state and local interests have a seat at the table in discussions about Browns Canyon."

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Obama signs legislation designating Colorado canyon a national monument

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 00:36