June 22, 2022
The Dolores River Canyon. Photo courtesy of Senator Michael Bennet’s Office

Portions of Dolores River Canyon could be protected under new legislation if passed

New legislation is in place that would protect the Dolores River as a National Conservation Area.

By Sarah Flower

with Julie Kibel, Dolores county commissioner


Sarah Flower:

The Dolores River Canyon is known for its scenic beauty, wildlife habitat, geological formations and cultural and Indigenous historic resources. The river runs through several counties in southwest Colorado and on Ute Mountain Ute tribal land.

After 20 years of conversations and collaborations between San Miguel, Dolores, Montezuma counties, local ranchers, conservation groups and the Ute Mountain Ute tribe.

The Dolores River National Conservation Area and special Management Area Act was introduced by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet and co-sponsored by Senator John Hickenlooper.

The legislation would designate portions of the Dolores River as a National Conservation Area or NCAA. The Act would protect 76-miles of the river, as well as 68,000 acres of ponderosa pine forest and desert Canyon, it would start at the river below McPhee reservoir and dam and end at the border of San Miguel in Montrose counties near bedrock.

Julie Kibel is a Dolores county commissioner. She has been working on this project since she became a commissioner in 2007. Kibel hopes that this act will keep the river protected for years to come.

Julie Kibel:

That River is kind of like our Disneyland. There's so many family history ties around that, that we just wanted that to continue from generation to generation, as well as the cultural uses that appear there. You know, there's medicinal gathering, and we just didn't want that to ever be taken away from our local pupil.

Sarah Flower:

The title says that the partners within the group focused on pursuing an NCAA attribution early on because then the act could easily be tailored to local needs.

Julie Kibel:

So in all reality, the Bureau of Land Management is managing agency over the river. So now they'll just have to put in parameters, the pieces and the protection that we put within that bill on that designation of the river. And so that's where the local control comes in.

Sarah Flower:

This designation is not a done deal just yet. The first step is the introduction of the Act to the Senate. The next is to refer the bill to the Energy and Natural Resource Committee for a hearing and review. Eventually, the Act would need to be passed by the Senate and the House.

If the bill is passed, management plans would be created for the NCAA in special management areas, and a 13 member advisory council would be formed to develop the plans. Reporting for KSUT Tribal Radio. I'm Sarah Flower

Don't have time to listen subscribe to KSUT Tribal Radio Podcast and listen whenever. TRT [2:41]

Copyright 2022 by KSUT Tribal Radio