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KSJD Local Newscast - March 26, 2024

Troubled by the possibility of a new national monument along the Lower Dolores River, county commissioners for both Montezuma and Dolores counties met Tuesday and voiced support for creating a National Conservation Area instead. They urged a staff member representing Third District Congresswoman Lauren Boebert to move forward quickly to get the legislation to create the NCA through the U.S. House. A national monument can be created by a president’s proclamation, while an NCA is the result of legislation passed by Congress. A local stakeholder group has worked for about 15 years to develop NCA legislation that would be acceptable to diverse interests including grazing, recreation, mining, and indigenous tribes. Naomi Dobbs, who is Representative Boebert’s Southwest Colorado regional director, said Boebert strongly supports the NCA but wants the legislation amended to address last-minute concerns by a uranium interest. Dolores County Commissioner Floyd Cook said, “This monument scares me to death.” Montezuma County Commissioner Gerald Koppenhafer said a monument would put management into the hands of a federal agency, but an NCA would allow locals “to have some say over it.”

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Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.