FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 15, 2022
Durango, Colorado - Conservation Lands Foundation celebrated today the introduction of new legislation by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet that will establish a Dolores River National Conservation Area (NCA) and Dolores River Special Management Area below McPhee Reservoir in Southwest Colorado. The Dolores River National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act will protect more than 68,000 acres of public lands and 76 miles of the spectacular Dolores River.
“We’re thrilled that Senator Bennet has introduced this urgently needed legislation to protect the Dolores River canyons,” said Charlotte Overby, Senior Field Director, Conservation Lands Foundation. “This bill is the result of more than a decade of compromise and collaboration by many local organizations and residents. It’s an important first step towards making sure public lands on Colorado’s Western Slope thrive well into the future.”
The natural and cultural values of the Dolores River landscape are well known and beloved. Native Nations have called the Dolores River canyons and surrounding areas home for millennia. For more than 15 years, farmers, ranchers, boaters, motorized recreationists, water and energy interests, landowners, and conservation organizations have recognized the need to protect the area and have collaborated to produce the resulting legislation. The bill has garnered widespread support, including from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Republican-led Dolores and Montezuma county commissions, and the Democrat-led San Miguel County Commission.
“This legislation is an opportunity to help ensure a healthy ecosystem for the people and wildlife who call this region home,” said Amber Clark, Executive Director of the Dolores River Boating Advocates. “The Dolores River Canyon is an essential lifeline to the landscape and culture of western Colorado. It’s renowned for its scenic beauty, geological formations, cultural and historic resources, and whitewater rafting. Protecting it as it is now will ensure that the broad diversity of Americans will continue to be able to access and appreciate the canyon for many years to come.”
Establishing a new Dolores River National Conservation Area is widely supported by Coloradans. Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project 2022 Conservation in the West Poll found that 89% of Coloradans agree with protecting existing public lands surrounding the Dolores River Canyon to conserve important wildlife habitat, safeguard the area’s scenic beauty, and support outdoor recreation.
For more information on the legislation, visit Senator Bennet’s website.
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About Conservation Lands Foundation
Conservation Lands Foundation leads the only national movement of grassroots advocates to protect, restore and expand National Conservation Lands. CLF is headquartered in Durango, Colorado with field offices throughout the West and in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit conservationlands.org.