Tuesday, John Salazar, Congressman for Colorado’s Third Congressional District and Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, introduced legislation in both chambers of Congress to designate the Chimney Rock Archeological Area as a National Monument. Chimney Rock, located in Archuleta County near Pagosa Springs, was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. In July 2009, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recommended the elevation of Chimney Rock to a National Monument.
The legislation introduced today will designate 4,726 acres surrounding Chimney Rock Archaeological Area as a National Monument to preserve, protect and restore the nationally significant archeological, cultural, scientific, watershed and scenic resources. Chimney Rock will remain a unit of the San Juan National Forest, and Native American tribes will retain access to the sites for traditional and cultural uses.
Congressman Salazar offered the following comment on the introduction of the Chimney Rock National Monument legislation:
“Today we introduced legislation to give the Chimney Rock Archeological Area a National Monument designation. This will help preserve this cultural and archeological treasure of the Southwest and will increase heritage tourism throughout the region. I appreciate Senator Bennet’s work on this and his introduction of the Chimney Rock bill in the Senate.”
Bennet offered the following comment on the introduction of the Chimney Rock National Monument legislation:
“Chimney Rock is a natural treasure worthy of the protection and recognition that comes with National Monument designation. This bill would finally provide national recognition of Chimney Rock’s incredible cultural significance and bring new opportunities for economic development to Archuleta County and surrounding areas.”
Exhibiting many of the features that earned Chaco Canyon (N.M.) a World Heritage Listing, Chimney Rock was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Between A.D. 900-1150, the ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians occupied the surrounding lands, and the site remains of cultural significance to many descendant tribes. Hundreds of cultural elements surround Chimney Rock’s soaring twin rock spires, including the Great House Pueblo. Chimney Rock is the most northeasterly and highest (7,600 feet) Chacoan site known. Every 18.6 years the moon, as seen from the Great House Pueblo, rises between the rock spires during an event known as the Northern Lunar Standstill.
The legislation is endorsed by the Archuleta County Commissioners, The Colorado Historical Society, Colorado Preservation Inc. and The National Trust for Historic Preservation, among others.