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KSJD Local Newscast - April 12, 2024

Arguments continue to rage over whether President Biden should designate a national monument on lands along the Dolores River. A coalition of environmental and recreational groups is calling for some 400,000 acres in Mesa and Montrose counties to be given monument status, but nearly 4,000 people have signed an online petition against the designation. Proponents say a monument would protect valuable natural and cultural resources while allowing most existing uses. Opponents say a monument could restrict mining, cattle-grazing, and some motorized uses. The monument idea does not currently include any land in Montezuma County, but local opponents were having a public meeting Saturday morning in Lewis north of Cortez to air their concerns. The Montezuma and Dolores County commissioners are meeting Monday afternoon in Dove Creek to talk about a current proposal to create a locally managed 68,000-acre national conservation area along the Lower Dolores in those two counties as well as San Miguel County. Bipartisan legislation for the NCA was developed during years-long discussions by stakeholders and has been introduced in Congress. The commissioners are concerned that the legislation may now be stalled, which might lead to those lands also being included in any new monument designation.

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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.