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Mesa County Commissioners adopt resolution opposing the proposed Dolores Canyons National Monument

On May 14, 2024, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution in opposition to the creation of the Dolores Canyons National Monument. This comes in response to the Protect the Dolores Coalition's initiative to designate an approximately 390,000-acre area encompassing parts of Mesa, Montrose, and San Miguel counties as a national monument. 

To continue to the full news release, click here.

Survey reveals 60% of community members oppose the Proposed Dolores Canyons National Monument

 

On April 30, 2024, the Board of Mesa County Commissioners and the public were briefed on a comprehensive and scientific opinion survey conducted by Magellan Strategies on April 24, 2024. Residents of Mesa, Montrose, and San Miguel counties weighed in on the future of the Dolores Canyons area, a region under consideration for national monument status.

The survey, which includes responses from 1,272 residents, provides insight into the community's views on land management, conservation efforts, and the proposed national monument designation. While there is significant support for conserving public lands, with 72% in favor, a majority of 60% oppose the national monument designation, primarily due to concerns over increased restrictions, desire for local control, and potential negative impacts on the local economy and environment.

Dolores Canyons National Monument Opinion Survey

Do the Dolores Canyons need more protection?

The Protect the Dolores Coalition has proposed creation of a new National Monument. The proposed Dolores Canyons National Monument, lies in western Mesa, Montrose and San Miguel counties and is currently shown to contain approximately 390,000 acres.  Proponents of the effort state:

The Protect the Dolores Coalition is proposing that a Dolores Canyons National Monument be designated on public lands surrounding the Dolores River in the western portions of Mesa and Montrose counties. The designation would only apply to public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service. Private lands will not be impacted. Following designation, these land management agencies would develop a new management plan through a public process that solicits input and expertise from local residents.

Opposing the monument proposal is the Halt the Dolores group, which highlights potential impacts on outdoor recreation, agriculture, and mining that could result from the designation of a national monument.

While the boundaries of the proposed national Monument are not set in stone and discussions are ongoing in many communities, Mesa County feels it is important to gather as much information and garner the opinions of as many area residents as possible as this decision will undoubtedly change the way many work and recreate in Western Colorado. 

 

Dolores Canyons GIS tool thumbnail image.

Proposed Dolores Canyons National Monument mapping tool  

*Please note: the identified boundaries of the Proposed Dolores Canyons National Monument are subject to change pending ongoing discussions with stakeholders.

The Proposed Dolores Canyons National Monument mapping tool features current management layers, including conservation lands, wildlife habitats, trails and roads, mining and critical minerals areas, recreation zones, grazing allotments, and areas of emergency management concern.

Using this feedback tool to collect input from the public and area stakeholders is crucial for effectively determining the best path forward for this section of the Dolores Canyons. This information will also aid in acknowledging and respecting various interests, and ensures both conservation and community goals are considered as we continue to discuss options for this area. 

As a transportation plan update is likely if a national monument is designated, feedback is critical for making informed decisions about which roads or trails may be closed, ensuring important access is maintained for recreational, traditional, or emergency purposes. It helps identify cultural or historical trails that should stay open and suggests alternatives to reduce environmental harm. Without proper feedback, there could be unintended restrictions on access to important areas, negatively affecting the community, recreational activities, and emergency responses.

Input from the community is also critical for ensuring water managers are able to maintain and improve water infrastructure, which is essential for agriculture and drinking water. Similarly, feedback on grazing leases is important to understand the importance of each allotment and their effects on area agriculture, land health, and wildlife. 

Given the mining history of the area, future management of mineral extraction and balancing these important resources with conservation and recreation, requires stakeholder input. This can highlight where mining has minimal environmental impact, address concerns about land degradation, and protect valuable ecological or cultural sites, while ensuring future opportunities for responsible resource development.

Management of our public lands

Dolores Canyon with grassy field and blue sky.

While Mesa County is diligently collecting and reviewing all information provided through the mapping tool, we also strongly encourage you to reach out to your State Senators and Representatives, County Commissioners, and City or Town Councilmembers. Your direct engagement with these officials is vital in shaping the outcome of this important decision.

Ways to contact elected officials are provided below. 

Make your voice heard