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KSJD Newscast - October 30th, 2015

  • Montezuma County commissioners join in call for a new citizens’ group to work on a National Conservation Area along the Dolores River.
  • Maintenance and future ownership of the Dolores-Norwood Road remain a topic of dispute between the Montezuma County commissioners and the Forest Service.

The Montezuma County commissioners have joined the San Juan Basin Farm Bureau in calling for a new citizens’ group to work specifically on water language in legislation to create a National Conservation Area along the Dolores River. On Monday, the commissioners voted unanimously to support an October 19th letter by the Farm Bureau that says the draft NCA legislation so far does not provide enough protection for water rights. The Farm Bureau calls for the creation of a 14-member “Water Protection Work Group” with members representing the Farm Bureau, Livestock Association, Dolores Water Conservancy District, Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company, Montezuma and Dolores counties, and McElmo Canyon water users. The current draft legislation, which addresses many issues other than water such as road access and mineral development, was crafted over a five-year period by a subcommittee of a broader citizens’ group.   
 
Maintenance and future ownership of the Dolores-Norwood Road remain a topic of dispute between the Montezuma County commissioners and the Forest Service. On Monday, the commissioners had a spirited discussion with the agency’s Dolores District Manager, Derek Padilla, over costs and responsibility for maintaining the road, which is currently under Forest Service jurisdiction. Padilla said the county had billed the agency for doing blading and road work that his office had not authorized. When Commissioner Larry Don Suckla asked why all the fees collected from commercial loggers for using that road could not be put into its maintenance, Padilla said those fees are spent on roads throughout the forest, not just that particular route. Suckla responded, “It sounds like theft to me.” The Forest Service has long voiced willingness to grant the county an easement for the heavily traveled road, but the county is holding out for ownership, which it claims under the statute known as RS 2477. The agency says such a claim must be adjudicated in court.
 

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