(EAGLE COUNTY, Colo.) — A World War II era military site, once called “Camp Hell” by veterans who faced high altitudes and harsh terrain in Colorado’s snowy mountains became The Camp Hale Continental Divide National Monument on Wednesday, Oct. 12.
“Senator Michael Bennet made this finally happen, he came to the White House and said, ‘I told you what I needed,’ and I said I’ll do it,” President Joe Biden said.
President Biden’s first national monument designation didn’t come easy. Commissioners in Eagle County where Camp Hale is located are in support of the designation, while Colorado leaders are making their voices heard.
Congresswoman Lauren Boebert taking to Twitter with her response: “The President came to Colorado to lock up thousands of acres, preventing Coloradans from using public lands and destroying American energy.”
The designation bans mineral extraction from the Thompson Divide, something Congressman Doug Lamborn continues to fight.
“Our nation’s public resources are best managed when the people that use those lands are involved, not shutout,” Congressman Lamborn said.
While State leader Joe Neguse disagrees. “To anyone who might be doubting the propriety of the President’s decision, talk to a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division,” said Neguse, Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Representative. “Talk to the families who have had in their own family, veterans who served in the 10th Mountain Division and trained at Camp Hale.”
President Biden said the veterans who trained at Camp Hale returned and helped build Colorado’s economy.
“Veterans returned to build world-famous ski resorts, as you all know and outdoor recreational industries to define Colorado today, industries to support billions of American jobs that generated hundreds of billions of dollars for our economy,” said President Biden.
Members of Congress may still have concerns over the designation, but now signed into law in Colorado, President Biden said it’s a permanent decision.
Camp Hale’s story began in 1940 before Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into WWII. Three East Coast ski enthusiasts had plans to create a unit capable of encountering Germany’s mountain troops.
Built in just seven months, the camp consisted of 226 barracks and numerous buildings. Amenities included storage houses, an officer’s club, and two ski areas.
The President’s visit to Eagle County on Wednesday is the second trip Biden has taken to Colorado in 2022, the first following the Marshall Fire.