Rally for Camp Hale national monument at the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail features a 100-year-old World War II veteran

Francis “Bud” Lovett, a 10th Mountain Division veteran and centenarian who trained at Camp Hale, talks about the importance of conservation for the sake of nature itself, teaching future generations and preserving lessons learned in the past. He was decorated with a bronze star with two oak leaf clusters and the device V for Valor during his heroic service as a doctor in the Italian campaign.
Ben Roof / For the Vail Daily

VAIL — As the country celebrated National Public Lands Day Saturday, the Colorado Snowsports Museum hosted a crowd of rallying advocates for the proposed Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument.

Among those advocating for President Joe Biden to designate the new monument was Francis “Bud” Lovett, one of the few surviving veterans of the original 10th Mountain Division, who is now 100 years old.


The division underwent intense training like no other in the U.S. Army at Camp Hale, with soldiers – who, on average, weighed 128 pounds and were 5ft 8in tall – working up to carrying at least 94 pounds on skis wooden measuring 7 feet, 6 inches long. Soldiers also spent nights in the freezing cold to prepare for the harsh conditions that encountered them in the Italian Alps, where they fought and won heroic battles.

Despite the grueling conditions, Lovett and other members of the 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale fell in love with the area. Despite the unforgiving conditions for them, reverence for the beauty and intensity of their training grounds and surroundings blossomed in the hearts of the soldiers.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan talks about what Camp Hale meant to his grandfather and his family at Saturday’s meeting in Vail.
Ben Roof / For the Vail Daily

During Saturday’s press conference, Lovett explained how Camp Hale is forever in his heart, both because of its beauty and the memories he trained there.

“Since losing my sight, it has been a joy for me to be able to remember so many wonderful things that I have seen, especially here,” Lovett said. “I remember I climbed Homestake and was there for the first snowfall. I was amazed by the sounds the birds I could hear them singing and there were still wildflowers at the edge of where the snow had stopped and that kind of thing is something you can’t do not forget.

After serving in World War II, many of Lovett’s comrades who also trained at Camp Hale returned to the mountainous region they fell in love with. Many of them founded the most famous ski resorts in the United States, including Vail. State Rep. Dylan Roberts, an Avon Democrat running for Senate District 8, said Saturday that the 10e Mountain Division veterans have to thank for fueling the state’s thriving outdoor recreation economy.

Supporters of the CORE Act, including State Senator Kerry Donvan, State Representative Dylan Roberts, County Commissioners Jeanne McQueeney and Kathy Chandler-Henry, members of the Vet Voice Foundation and veteran of 10th Mountain Division Fancis “Bud” Lovett, pose for a group photo Saturday in Vail.
Ben Roof / For the Vail Daily

Like Lovett, many who advocate for the area’s protection believe Camp Hale’s national monument status would help preserve the area for recreators, nature lovers, and those who will benefit from being there physically and emotionally.

Bradley Noone, who joined the military in 2005 and now serves as an outdoor liaison Operation VetFit and volunteers from the Sierra Club Military Outdoors and Veterans Expeditions, shared how the legacy of Camp Hale lives on for veterans today. For this reason, Noone believes the creation of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument is crucial.

“It comes full circle, at least for me,” Noone said. “I was involved in the outdoors growing up, but the military really forced us out, forced us into the mountains. I had never spent a ton of time in the mountains. Then, once out of the army, I was looking for another way to cope, to heal my war wounds, both physical and mental. I found the area around Camp Hale and it literally saved my life. So stacking that on top of historical value, I think (the establishment of the national monument) is a no-brainer.

State Rep. Dylan Roberts speaks about his support for the CORE Act at Saturday’s rally in Vail for a proposed national monument that includes Camp Hale.
Ben Roof / For the Vail Daily

Because the 10th Mountain Division has a long heritage in Vail, veterans like Noone and Lovett, along with snow sports enthusiasts encouraged President Biden to designate Camp Hale and Tenmile Range as a national monument. .

President’s America the great initiative aims to conserve 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030, and Camp Hale has been a hot spot for initializing that promised protection.

“(The America the Beautiful Initiative) is a challenge to build on the country’s best conservation traditions to be true to principles that reflect the country’s values ​​and to improve the quality of life for Americans – now and for decades to come. come,” said the US Department of the Interior reports.

Recreation and nature are core values ​​for Colorado residents, which has garnered a lot of support for the initiative alongside the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Actwhich also aims to conserve and protect public lands throughout the state.

Janessa Goldbeck, CEO of Vet Voice Foundation and Marine Corps veteran, introduces local elected officials and Francis “Bud” Lovett, a 10th Mountain veteran and centenarian who trained at Camp Hale, during Saturday’s rally for a proposed national monument honoring the famous World War II training site at the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail.
Ben Roof / For the Vail Daily

However, on Thursday, U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert, who represents parts of Eagle County in Colorado’s sprawling 3rd District, sent a letter to Biden opposing the creation of the monument.

“While Camp Hale and our military personnel stationed there made significant contributions to World War II, we do not support the efforts of extreme environmentalists who seek to hijack this historic site to create a new land designation – a designation which literally does not exist – to ban harvesting and logging on nearly 30,000 acres of land,” the letter read.

Speakers at Saturday’s rally at the Colorado Snowsports Museum claimed Boebert’s letter failed to acknowledge the wide range of stakeholders across the political and economic spectrum — from conservationists to ranchers and hunters — who came out in favor of the CORE Act, which has passed the House of Representatives five times but stalled several times in the US Senate. Jordan Williams, a member of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, said the more resources invested in the area, which would happen with national monument designation, the more people will respect and protect it.

“It’s a lot about education,” Williams said. “It’s like you go park here, cycle here, hike here, how do you do that responsibly? Having a designated trail is a great way to do this because you limit your impact, obviously on the natural resource side, and also allow access in a sustainable way.

Advocates at the rally, following the Continental Divide Trail Coalition’s 4-mile Cataract Falls hike in the vicinity of Camp Hale, agreed that designation of the land as a national monument is necessary for the land to be available and remain beautiful for generations to come.

“I hope to God that someone in high places listens to an old man who was there and knows the value of what you have in this 10-mile circuit,” Lovett said. “So, all the best to you, and an urgent message to President Biden – for Pete’s sake, take care, grab your pen and sign.”

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