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Montezuma County Commissioners Hope for Larger Sand Canyon Parking Lot than BLM's Proposed Design

Bureau of Land Managment

The Montezuma County Commission held a breezy outdoor meeting Monday afternoon near what they hope will become a new parking lot near the popular  Sand Canyon trail system in McElmo Canyon. The Bureau of Land Management is seeking to build a parking area near the trailhead just east of the current informal parking area, a rugged stretch of slickrock. The new lot would hold up to 13 additional vehicles and provide room for horse trailers. But the county commissioners said the BLM’s new lot would not be sufficient to handle the growing crowds of hikers and bikers that flock to Sand Canyon, particularly in the  spring. The commissioners have grown impatient with the BLM’s process. They say increasing traffic congestion and parking confusion will result in a fatal accident if the problem isn’t remedied soon. On Monday, county federal-lands manager James Dietrich suggested the creation of a separate county parking lot in the unusually wide right-of-way next to the planned BLM lot. He said if parallel parking were used in the right-of-way the lots could dovetail and capacity would increase from 13 to about 40 spaces. BLM officials said they have scarce funding for such a project and it would require a lengthy review process to survey for cultural resources. However, they said they would consider the idea.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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