Protect the Dolores – the other side

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Protect the Dolores – the other side

Date: 05/02/2024     Category: News & Media     Author: Timber Schuman     Publication: The Bharat Express News    

Original Post ➡️

NATURITA, Colo. (KREX) – Residents of the small town of Naturita gave Sen. John Hickenlooper an ear full of concerns about the Dolores National Monument proposal.

Now let’s hand the microphone to the advocates.

Scott Braden, project director of Colorado Wildlands, tells Western Slope Now Protect the Dolores, a coalition of conservation, community and business groups, began pushing for monument status two years ago, though efforts to protect the canyons date back to late sixties.

Braden tells Western Slope Now Protect that the Dolores met with the Forest Service, ranchers and community leaders and sent petitions – collecting 103,000 signatures. The target? To convince President Biden to designate Dolores Canyon a national monument.

Home to the Dolores River and ancient fish such as chub, flannelmouth, and bluehead suckers, you’ll find petroglyphs and archaeological sites of Ute and Ancestral Pueblo, bighorn sheep, dinosaur fossils, and unforgettable views. Yet misconceptions exist.

Former Grand Junction Mayor Anna Stout tells Western Slope. Unlike the Colorado National Monument – ​​run by the National Park Service – the Forest Service and BLM would manage the proposed monument exactly as they do now, without entrance fees or strict restrictions.

Braden and Stout say hunting and livestock grazing will remain unaffected.

But Sean Pond, who dropped the Dolores petition, says that while the coalition will grandfather all existing mines, some fear a hidden agenda. Braden and Stout say 90 percent of all mines are excluded from the proposed boundaries.

EcoFlight director Jane Pargiter says with social media these days, all the hidden gems, like Dolores Canyon, will be revealed soon, so it’s best to set some rules before tourism starts.

The coalition believes it can boost even economically struggling small towns like Naturita.

Stout says local opinions matter, but all Coloradans and Americans have a voice on public lands.

While the effort is gaining traction, as Braden tells Western Slope Now, it’s still too early to consider amenities. Meanwhile, the fate of these canyons hangs in the balance as the sides on both sides struggle to find common ground.

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