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Colorado's Newest National Monument

PHOTO: Chimney Rock National Park. Photo credit: Ryan Bidwell.
September 21. 2012
PHOTO: Chimney Rock National Park. Photo credit: Ryan Bidwell.

CHIMNEY ROCK, Colo. – Colorado's new national monument is getting an unusual celebration. President Obama this week added Chimney Rock to the list of sites protected as national monuments. The southwestern Colorado site was home to a Native American Pueblo about a thousand years ago - housing up to 2,000 people. It is also the site of a spectacular moonrise between the twin rock spires every 18-and-a-half years.

Tony Simmons is brewmaster at Pagosa Brewing Company, just down the road from the new monument. His company was one of the more than 120 area businesses who asked the president to make the designation - and he has created a new pueblo-inspired craft beer to celebrate.

"This beer contains ingredients you wouldn't necessarily find in a lot of other craft beers or any beers for that matter – including local squash, Anasazi beans, sweet corn and just a whisper of prickly pear cactus fruit."

This afternoon, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will be at the new monument to mark its designation. Simmons says the brewery will host a party afterward, featuring a pueblo-inspired meal.

Al White, director of the Colorado Department of Tourism, calls the new designation good news for the state. A study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation found that national monument status could double tourism dollars in the region.

"Anything that's is going to help raise the profile of Colorado is going to help bring more tourists, and tourists spend money."

White says tourism is a $15 billion industry that helps lower Coloradans' tax bills, by providing the equivalent of $600 in taxes for every family of four in the state.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO