Camp Hale, recognized

President Biden, using the Antiquities Act, last week declared his first national monument, the 53,804-acre Camp Hale – Continental Divide National Monument.

To any aged 10th Infantry Division vet, Tibetian freedom fighter, WWII Italian campaign buff, or Ute Indian, the area is well known. Named for Span-Am War vet and Colorado transplant, Brig. Gen. Irving Hale (USMA 1884), the base was carved out of the wilderness around Red Cliff in 1942 and used to train GI “mountain” and ski troops throughout WWII.

Army Pack Mules at Camp Hale, Colorado, 3.17.1944 111-SC-240545

The famous image of Corporal Hall Burton, Mountain Ski Trooper, At Camp Hale, Colorado, ca. 1943. Note the M1 Garand over his shoulder. 111-SC-329331

“Mountain Troops Learn From Mountain Explorer,” 9.19.43 111-SC-178597

Some 15,000 trained there during the war including not only the units that would become the 10th Mountain but the 38th “Rock of the Marne” Infantry Regiment, the unarmed and restricted duty (due to German-birth/sketchy politics) 620th Engineer General Service Co, and the Norwegian-American 99th Inf. Battalion (separate)-– the latter a feeder for Norwegian NORSOG cells for the OSS.

After the Army cleared out, the CIA stepped in at Camp Hale and trained hundreds of Chushi Gangdruk Tibetan resistance members there in the 1950s and 1960s.

While Camp Hale has been a National Historic Site since 1992, of course, there are calls from conservatives that Biden overstepped in naming the new monument, and the Ute nation–whose land it was traditionally– said the new monument celebrates an “unlawful act of genocide” due to their treatment at the hands of the federal government, I think it was the right move.

From the White House statement:

The Forest Service will manage the 53,804-acre national monument and develop a management plan to protect cultural resources and the objects of historic and scientific interest identified in the proclamation. The monument will be protected for future generations while continuing to support a wide range of recreation opportunities, recognizing the ongoing use of the area for outdoor recreation, including skiing, hiking, camping, and snowmobiling. The management plan will also help guide the development of education and interpretative resources, to share the area’s full story, from the history of Indigenous peoples, to the heroic training and service of the 10th Mountain Division, while maintaining space for the area’s growing recreation economy.

The establishment of this monument is subject to valid existing rights, including valid existing water and mineral rights. The monument will not affect any permits held by the area’s world-class ski resorts and will not restrict activities outside of the monument’s boundaries. The proclamation allows for continued remediation of contaminated lands and for continued avalanche and snow safety management, wildfire response and prevention, and ecological restoration. Laws, regulations, and policies followed by the Forest Service in issuing and administering grazing permits on all lands under its jurisdiction will continue to apply.

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