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Chimney Rock National Monument joins six others managed by the Forest Service

A photo of Chimney Rock.
Chimney Rock National Monument

President Barack Obama announced his decision to designate Chimney Rock as a national monument, the seventh monument to be managed by the U.S. Forest Service and one of 103 national monuments protected for Americans.

President Obama honored Chimney Rock using his authority under the American Antiquities
Act of 1906, which allows for national monument designation of naturally, culturally and historically significant lands. As a national monument, Chimney Rock's importance is elevated and it has permanent protection.

The Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are the four federal agencies tasked with managing national monuments.

The move to designate Chimney Rock as a national monument follows years of grass root movement to expand the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area to that of a national monument. In 2007, the National Trust for Historic Preservation provided matching funds in 2007 under the Save America’s Treasures grant program and, by 2009, began the campaign to designate Chimney Rock a national monument. The National Trust labeled the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area as the single most important cultural site managed by the Forest Service.

“For more than two years, we have discussed with and listened to community members, key stakeholders, tribal representatives, our Congressional Delegation, and others who have expressed overwhelming support for a national monument designation of Chimney Rock,” said Dan Jirón, regional forester for the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region, which covers more than 22 million acres of forests and grasslands in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Among the supporters are the All Indian Pueblo Council, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and the San Juan Citizens Alliance. The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association and Colorado Preservation Inc. also supported the campaign, which included an online petition drive urging Obama to make the designation.

Chimney Rock National Monument sits on 4,726 acres of the San Juan National Forest and is bordered by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. The site was once home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians. Roughly 1,000 years ago, the Ancestral Pueblo People built more than 200 homes and ceremonial buildings high above the valley floor.

A photo of an Eagle DanceChimney Rock holds great significance for the Native American tribes of southwestern Colorado and our neighboring states,” said Mark Stiles, supervisor of the San Juan National Forest. “As we manage for the many resources and benefits this site represents, we will pay close attention to the importance of Chimney Rock to our many tribal neighbors.”

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area has 118 known archaeological sites. Chimney Rocky National Monument includes the area originally listed under the National Register of Historic Places, as well as more than 100 archaeological sites associated with the Ancestral Puebloans who lived in the area.

The dramatic geology of the monument stands in stark contrast to the majestic Ponderosa Pine forest and rolling savannah-like plains along the valley floor, combining to create a sweeping landscape. The Piedra River cuts along the edge of Peterson Mesa in the northern portion of the monument. Steep cliffs and expanses of exposed sandstone and shale are evidence of the violence of geologic time.

Peregrine falcons nest on the pinnacles and soar over ancient structures, the dramatic landscape, and the forested slopes of the Piedra and Stolsteimer Creek drainages, which are framed by the high peaks of the San Juan Mountains.

Migratory mule deer and elk herds pass through the area each fall and spring as they have for thousands of years.

Annual visitation was 12,000 people prior to designation. As a national monument, that number is expected to significantly increase.

Chimney Rock Interpretive Association offers guided and self-guided tours and hosts special events, including pottery workshops, night sky programs, and Native American cultural gatherings.

A management plan for the monument will be developed to provide for the protection and interpretation of scientific and historic objects in the monument and for continued tribal and public access.


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US Forest Service
Last modified March 29, 2013

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