Viewpoint: Montana can learn from Colorado’s newest national monument
Montana Can Learn from Colorado’s Newest National Monument The Mountain Mamas started in Montana in 2013, and over two years ago branched out to Colorado. In both states we have thousands of moms united by a simple premise: we are rooted in the western lifestyle of raising our families outside.
Therefore, we work to raise our collective voices to keep our rivers pristine, our air clean, and our shared public lands open and wild for generations to come.
While our efforts are straightforward and non-partisan, we’ve watched for years as dysfunction in Congress has held hostage common sense solutions such as the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act.
Our mamas in Colorado have also watched in dismay as the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy (CORE) Act, a homegrown bill created after decades of local advocacy work, withered on the vine once it got to Washington, D.C.
Protection of Camp Hale, which was used to train soldiers during World War II, was included in the CORE Act. The terrain of Camp Hale allowed American soldiers to learn ski-mountaineering to prepare for winter warfare.
Instead of allowing partisan games in Congress to once again gum up locally supported public lands protections, President Biden used a tool deployed by presidents of both parties to get the job done: the Antiquities Act. After decades of support from veterans, local families, business owners, outdoor recreationists, and historians - and thanks to the Antiquities Act - this special place has now been designated the new Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument.
Mountain Mamas from Colorado are both celebrating this designation and taking their families there to enjoy the 20+ miles of inclusive trails open to the public to recreate and create memories. Over the last year, Mountain Mamas in Montana embarked on family road trips in every season to explore and learn more about our state’s rich and unique national monuments including Pompey’s Pillar, Upper Missouri River Breaks, Little Bighorn Battlefield, and the Big Hole National Battlefield.
Whether learning about, honoring, and respecting the history of Indigenous peoples, or exploring the paths once taken by the Corps of Discovery, there is no doubt that certain places should be protected in perpetuity whether Congress can put partisan politics aside to do this important work or not.
The lessons from Colorado and our newest national monument should inspire, hearten, and even motivate public lands advocates and our elected officials: if Congress isn’t willing to get the job done to protect the public lands that fuel our economy and serve as the core backdrop as we raise our kids outside…then we should look at tools such as the Antiquities Act, used by Republican and Democrat administrations alike to do the right thing and ensure that we are leaving our nation better than we found it for generations to come.
Becky Edwards is the Executive Director of the Mountain Mamas, and lives in Bozeman with her husband and three daughters.