National Trust for Historic Preservation Supports New Legislation That Would Designate Colorado's Chimney Rock as a National Monument
Posted March 8, 2011 | Contact email@example.com or 202-588-6141
Washington, D.C. (March 8, 2011)—Legislation introduced today in the U.S. Senate would elevate Colorado’s Chimney Rock—considered the most important cultural site managed by the U.S. Forest Service—to the status of national monument. The legislation to designate Chimney Rock a national monument, re-introduced by Senator Michael Bennet, is strongly supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a broad coalition of preservation and environmental organizations and the Archuleta County Commission.
“Chimney Rock is an awe-inspiring, hidden treasure that has long been in need of the recognition, resources and protection that national monument designation will bring, and we thank Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Mark Udall for their leadership on this nomination,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Designating this culturally and historically significant place is a win-win. In addition to preserving a vital piece of our nation’s history, national monument designation will also bring economic benefits to Archuleta County through a focused increase in cultural and heritage tourism.”
The legislation was first introduced in the Senate of the 111th Congress by Senators Bennet and Udall. The bill passed out of Committee with unanimous consent in the Senate in 2010, but the Senate failed to pass a significant backlog of historic, cultural and natural resources bills before the end of the congressional session.
Specifically, the legislation will designate the Forest Service’s 4,726 acre Chimney Rock Archaeological Area as a national monument to preserve, protect, and restore the nationally significant archeological, cultural, scientific, watershed and scenic resources. Chimney Rock will remain a unit of the San Juan National Forest, and Native American tribes will retain access to the sites for traditional and cultural uses.
Chimney Rock attracts about 9,000 visitors per year. Designation of Chimney Rock would raise its public profile—attracting greater public attention and increasing heritage tourism to Archuleta County and the Four Corners area. Historically, national monument designations have also brought increased federal funding and resources, thereby providing for higher quality visitor facilities, more interpretation, better public education and improved site stabilization
BACKGROUND ON CHIMNEY ROCK
The National Trust for Historic Preservation believes that Chimney Rock is the most important cultural site managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Exhibiting many of the features that earned Chaco Canyon a World Heritage listing, Chimney Rock was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Between A.D. 925 and 1125, the ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians occupied the surrounding lands, and the site remains of cultural significance to many descendant tribes. Hundreds of cultural elements surround Chimney Rock’s soaring twin rock spires, including the Great House Pueblo. Chimney Rock is the most northeasterly and highest (7,600 feet) Chacoan site known. Every 18.6 years the moon, as seen from the Great House Pueblo, rises between the rock spires during an event known as the Northern Lunar Standstill.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.