WASHINGTON – President Obama signed a proclamation on Friday, Sept. 21 establishing Chimney Rock as a National Monument. Chimney Rock, located in the San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado, offers a spectacular landscape rich in history and Native American culture. The designation was made under the Antiquities Act with bi-partisan support from Colorado officials, the Native American community, local businesses and other stakeholders.
“Chimney Rock draws thousands of visitors who seek out its rich cultural and recreational opportunities,” said President Obama. “Today’s designation will ensure this important and historic site will receive the protection it deserves.”
“Thousands of people come every year to experience the cultural, and spiritual significance of Chimney Rock,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “With President Obama’s action and the strong support of the Native American community and others throughout the region, this new monument will bring new economic opportunity to Archuleta County and the Four Corners region as more visitors from around the world come to see this national treasure.”
The 4,726 acre Chimney Rock National Monument will be managed by the USDA Forest Service – the seventh National Monument managed by the agency – in close collaboration with tribal, community, state, and Federal partners.
Today, Chimney Rock is one of the best recognized and most unique archaeological resources in North America, home to hundreds of ruins built by the Ancestral Pueblo People about 1,000 years ago, including the highest elevation ceremonial “great house” in the Southwest. Notably, every 18.6 years, during the northern lunar standstill, the moonrise is aligned with the sites two rock pinnacles, as well as during the summer and winter solstices, and the fall and spring equinoxes. Descendants of the Ancestral Pueblo People return to Chimney Rock to visit their ancestors and for other spiritual and traditional purposes.
Chimney Rock is the third National Monument designated by President Obama using the Antiquities Act. He previously designated Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, a former Army post integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military, and Fort Ord National Monument in California, a former military base that is a world-class destination for outdoor recreation. First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients.
The designation of Chimney Rock National Monument builds on President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which fosters a 21st century approach to conservation that responds to the priorities of the American people. During the past three years, USDA’s conservation agencies, the U.S. Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Farm Service Agency, have worked with more than half a million farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to enroll record acres in conservation programs, have targeted conservation dollars to locally-driven conservation initiatives and have worked to increase conservation and restoration activities on the 193 million acre National Forest system.