by Maggie Spencer, KRCC

Browns Canyon.

(Photo: CPR/Lesley McClurg)

Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) traveled to Chaffee County on Tuesday to unveil new proposed legislation that declares Browns Canyon a national monument and wilderness area.

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. 

"Over the last 18 months, Sen. Udall has been working side-by-side with Chaffee county leaders, residents, businesses and other stakeholders to develop legislation to create a Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness area," spokesman Mike Saccone said. "So, he’s developed this community-driven bill to ensure that future generations like him can enjoy Browns Canyon unique mix of whitewater and wilderness."

Friends of Browns Canyon, a regional group that’s worked to protect the area, says such a move would preserve the land and recreation along the Arkansas River for years to come.

The idea of the bill, when first reported in July by Colorado Public Radio's Lesley McClurg, stirred quite a bit of controversy.