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Chimney Rock Monument Manager Questions Rep. Scott Tipton's Stance on Antiquities Act

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Colorado’s Third District Congressman, Republican Scott Tipton of Cortez, is supporting proposed legislation that would radically alter the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives presidents the authority to create national monuments. However, a representative of one monument in Southwest Colorado is questioning the congressman’s stance. HR 3990 would narrow the definition of what can be protected by monument designations. It would also require that local county commissioners, the state legislature and the governor approve any new monuments, and give presidents authority to revoke or downsize existing monuments. The bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee October 11th on a party-line vote, with Tipton one of the yeas. But the administrative director of the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association near Pagosa Springs, Danyelle Leentjes, tells KSJD the association is “confused and disappointed” by his vote. The association runs Chimney Rock National Monument in partnership with the Forest Service, which has no position on the bill. Leentjes says in 2012 Tipton supported Chimney Rock’s designation under the Antiquities Act and that he has praised its economic impact on local communities. In a statement before the vote, Tipton said presidents such as Barack Obama have abused the Antiquities Act but that presidents should be able to declare monuments in emergencies.

But Leentjes says, “You can’t just take one part of a flawed bill, and vote yes on it, and expect the other parts to be left out."
 

KSJD's Austin Cope contributed to this report.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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