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Commissioners oppose regional national monument proposal


The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) approved a resolution opposing the creation of the proposed Dolores Canyons National Monument at its June 18 meeting.

According to the resolution, “Protect the Dolores Coalition has proposed the designation of an approximately 400,000-acre Dolores Canyons National Monument in Mesa County, Montrose County and San Miguel County through the Antiquities Act of 1906.”

Commissioner Veronica Medina proposed the resolution at the BoCC’s June 11 work session.

At that work session, she explained a Montezuma County commissioner had presented during the western district meeting of the Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) summer conference on a resolution opposing the proposed monument.

She indicated that other counties have signed the resolution and explained that the resolution opposes the national monument designation “because it would severely limit the practicality and flexibility needed to address water conservation by adding unnecessary red tape and layers of bureaucracy and inefficiency.”

Medina stated that she was elected vice president of CCI’s western district and that she was bringing the resolution to the commissioners for them to consider and voice their opinions.

Commissioner Ronnie Maez commented that he was “in favor of extending our partnership with all the other western district states,” adding that the county might need their support in the future.

He also commented that the acreage of the proposed monument is “huge” and “way too big for what needs to be dedicated.”

“I think there’s other underlying innuendos on the reason for that designation in there,” he said.

Commissioner Warren Brown stated that the “easiest thing to do” would be for the county to “do nothing” because it is not directly impacted, but that the “right thing to do I don’t think is the easiest thing in this instance.”

Brown added that he feels that the BoCC should “support our partners” who might be significantly impacted due to the mining occurring in western Montrose County and Montezuma County.

He stated that this is an opportunity for the county to demonstrate its support for neighboring counties.

Brown described the proposed monument’s area as “far too vast for this designation” and stated that it would be “detrimental to those communities.”

Medina then directed staff to modify resolutions taken from other counties for Archuleta County and to place the item on the agenda for a future meeting.

The resolution passed by the BoCC opposing the creation of the monument highlights the presence of various “elemental resources,” including uranium, in the area; asserts that the area is already sufficiently protected by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service; and raises concerns about how a national monument designation would introduce additional bureaucratic barriers to various activities in the region and reduce local control.

The resolution indicates that the county supports other Colorado counties potentially impacted by the national monument designation and states its support for a community process engaging local stakeholders in designing a “more appropriate” conservation area.

The Protect the Dolores Coalition, the primary group supporting the national monument designation, notes on its website the environmental, archaeological and historical value of the region.

It also states that the creation of a national monument would help protect the area from the pressures of climate change, mining exploitation, “unplanned recreation” and development.