WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 3, 2011 AT 11:30 AM EDT - U.S. Forest Service Associate Chief Mary Wagner offered testimony today before the House Committee on Natural Resources offering support for a bill that would establish Chimney Rock on the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado as a national monument.
During her testimony, Wagner addressed technical concerns with the act and offered modifications that would help the Forest Service carry out the act when passed. Some of the issues related to the administration of the monument, approved activities on the sites and the use of non-federal funds or money already appropriated in connection with the designation or advertisement of the Monument.
“The Forest Service values archaeological and cultural resources and considers it part of the agency’s mission to preserve and interpret them for the public,” Wagner said. “We believe the rich history, spectacular archaeological, cultural, scientific, and scenic resource values merits the designation of the area as a national monument.”
“USDA and the Forest Service look forward to our continued work with Tribes, Committee and Subcommittee members concerning this important site,” said USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman.
Designated as an Archaeological Area and National Historic Landmark in 1970, Chimney Rock lies on 4,100 acres of San Juan National Forest land surrounded by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. If signed into law, the act would designate 4,726 acres surrounding the area within the San Juan National Forest as a National Monument.
Between A.D. 900 and 1150, the ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians occupied the lands surrounding Chimney Rock, and the site remains archaeologically and culturally significant to many descendant tribes. At 7,600 feet, Chimney Rock is also the most northeasterly and highest Chacoan site known. Chacoan culture refers to the way of life of ancient ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians and continues to be important to the native people in the region.