The final draft of federal legislation that would designate the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area a national monument is
nearing completion and could be introduced to Congress in the coming weeks, said a spokesman for U.S. Rep. John
It is congressman Salazar's intention to introduce the bill this month," said Edward Stern, deputy press secretary for
Salazar, whose district includes La Plata and Archuleta counties.
Salazar is awaiting feedback from interested local groups, including tribes, archaeologists, landowners and
representatives of Archuleta County, before completing the final draft of the bill and introducing it to the
Stern said Salazar does not anticipate any challenges that would hinder the bill's passage.
The designation would not stipulate funding requirements for Chimney Rock, and the decision about spending would remain
with the U.S. Forest Service if the bill passes, Stern said.
Increased funding would improve maintenance of the area, parts of which have been deteriorating over the last several
years, said Barry Wheeless, president of the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association, a nonprofit group that works with
the Forest Service to raise funds for preserving the area.
Despite everything we've done and the money we've been able to contribute, in the past, there has just not been enough
money to stabilize mainly the walls of the structures," he said.
The federal support also would need to fund infrastructure improvements because the current parking, restroom and
welcome center facilities could not sustain the increased number of tourists the designation is expected to bring,Wheeless said.
In an e-mail, Salazar said he decided to pursue the national monument designation for Chimney Rock after a trip to the
site last summer in order to preserve and protect its cultural history and to increase cultural tourism opportunities
for Colorado's Southwest region."
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., cited similar cultural and economic reasons for his decision to sponsor a Chimney
Rock designation bill in the Senate, saying in an e-mail statement that the move will protect this national treasure
and enhance the local economy."
The final draft of Bennet's bill is nearing completion, but the timeline for its introduction is not yet clear, said
Adrianne Marsh, senior communications adviser for Bennet.
I guess the best-case scenario would be sooner as opposed to later, but there's always the chance that we need to make
sure we take as much time as possible to make sure people are comfortable," Marsh said.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., is waiting to see the final version of Bennet's bill before deciding whether to support the
designation, said his communications director, Tara Trujillo.
Jeremy Walsh is an intern from American University in Washington, D.C. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.