Dolores monument support grows despite name-calling, misinformation campaign

Jun 17, 2024

A proposal to designate the Dolores River canyonlands as a national monument would protect one of Colorado’s largest, most biodiverse swaths of unprotected public land. The proposal to designate 400,000 acres of federal land along the river as a national monument would protect the landscape from new mining and development and provide better management tools for increased visitation.

Some community members disagree with the proposal and have turned to name-calling and online rants to express their concerns, the Denver Post reportsSean Pond, an organizer of the Halt the Dolores Monument campaign, has posted on Facebook calling monument supporters “eco-terrorists,” “a parasite,” and “the embodiment of evil.” Others called local businesses that support the monument a “cancer on the community.”

Many opponents’ concerns are based on misinformation. If designated as a national monument, the lands would continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, and would not have an entrance fee. Livestock grazing would still be permitted, as would existing recreation access, including motorized vehicles and off-road routes. Existing and valid mining claims would remain valid, though it would not allow new mining claims.

While opponents worry that a monument designation would overwhelm the area with tourists, advocates say the increased tourism would likely have a positive economic effect on Mesa and Montrose Counties. A monument designation would also provide the area with planning tools to manage visitation. “This landscape is one Instagram influencer away from being overrun, so let’s get the conservation right before it’s a problem,” said Scott Braden, director of Colorado Wildlands Project and an organizer for the monument campaign.

Both Senator John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet have recently visited the area to hold community listening sessions. The monument proposal is supported by 92 percent of Coloradoans across the state.

Quick hits

One of Colorado’s least-visited canyonlands could become a national monument

Denver Post | The Journal | Colorado Sun

To prevent private development on state land, Teton County closes in on recreation lease

WyoFile

Tribal leaders and elected officials lead community meeting for Chuckwalla National Monument

KESQ

Can the greater sage-grouse be kept off the endangered species list?

Inside Climate News

California Tribal members are reclaiming the ‘Land of the Flowing Water’

New York Times

Report finds Colorado was built on $1.7 trillion of land expropriated from tribal nations

Associated Press

A small lizard in a big debate: The saga of the dunes sagebrush lizard

WBUR

NPS favors adding Rosenwald Schools to park system

National Parks Traveler | National Park Service [press release]

Quote of the day

It’s encouraging, because this was once our land here. Do we feel like we were the ones that should get it back? No, it should have been my grandparents and my great-grandparents. But it’s happening now.”

—Marilyn Bracken, Fort Independence Tribe member, New York Times

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Featured photo: Dolores River Canyon, Center for Western Priorities