Between Buena Vista and Salida, the Arkansas River sweeps through Browns Canyon, an area of granite cliffs and rugged backcountry that's popular with elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and black bears -- not to mention hunters, anglers, rafters, hikers and campers. But this quintessential slice of Colorado wilderness is also attracting increasing interest from mining companies, and that's prompted a sportsmen's group to embark on an unusual campaign, featuring billboards and a recent flashy light show downtown, to get Browns Canyon designated as a national monument.
The downtown event, "Browns Canyon Live," involved an eye-popping display of images on the facade of the McNichols Building in Civic Center, in an effort to introduce urbanites to some of the wild wonders of the canyon. Ghost Pixel Visuals put together a multimedia show that used digital mapping to make a suitable canvas out of the building's neoclassical features. A recap video of the October 17 performance can be found below.
Note the cameo in the video by Mark Udall -- who, before his costly defeat in the sludge match with Cory Gardner over his Senate seat, backed legislation that would grant national monument status to 22,000 acres of Browns, preserving fish and wildlife habitat in the canyon and aiding local tourism.
The pretty lights are only the first round of the preservation push by Sportsmen for Browns Canyon, which describes itself as "a grassroots coalition of hunters and anglers." The group has also leased two billboards along I-70 through Denver pushing Udall's proposal.
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"We just want to keep Browns Canyon the way it is -- pristine and wild," said Kyle Perkins, the Sportsmen for Browns coordinator, in a prepared statement. (Perkins also serves as a campaign coordinator for Trout Unlimited.) "Our goal with the video event was to visually bring this amazing place to the heart of downtown Denver."
Wilderness enthusiasts may not find the glitz of the light show to have much in common with the lure of the backcountry, but judge for yourself.