Club 20 Opposes Proposed Designation of the Dolores River Canyon National Monument

May 24th, 2024

RE: Proposed Designation of the Dolores River Canyon National Monument

Dear Colorado Leaders with Invested Interest:

Club 20 appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed Dolores River Canyon National Monument. Our organization is a coalition of individuals, businesses, tribes, and local governments in Colorado’s 22 western counties. For over seven decades, Club 20, organized for the purpose of speaking with a single unified voice on issues of mutual concern, has consistently emphasized the importance of preserving our natural resources while also supporting responsible land management practices. However, the proposed monument designation poses significant risks to the economic vitality and local autonomy of our region. On behalf of the Western Slope of Colorado, and our members, we strongly encourage you to oppose this proposed designation.

First and foremost, the designation of the Colorado Dolores River Canyon National Monument threatens to restrict multiple-use access to public lands, limiting recreational access, resource mining and reclamation, and grazing. Club 20 has incessantly promoted balanced land management policies that accommodate various recreational activities, including hunting, fishing, and fire mitigation practices, including grazing. Designating the area as a monument could impose unnecessary restrictions on these activities, undermining the principles of multiple-use management endorsed by Club 20.

Local communities, their residents, and businesses, which are most affected by federal and state land decisions are intimately familiar with the current and historic uses of public lands and have direct knowledge and experience to achieve the best balance of environmental, social, and economic impacts of land use decisions. Unfortunately, this proposed national monument designation negates many of our western Colorado multiple use values. Those values include:

  • Healthy forests as managed using appropriate silviculture and fire management techniques, Agriculture (grazing, farming, etc.),
  • Recreation and Tourism (motorized and non-motorized recreation, water & land sports, hunting, fishing, hiking, etc.),
  • Timbering and grazing,
  • Industry (mining, electric power production, natural gas extraction, logging, etc.),
  • Water (industrial uses, agricultural uses, recreational uses, and general water resource development and conservation),
  • Intangible Values (historical, cultural, and archeological sites, open space values and access to open space, desire for free enterprise, conservation stewardship, wildlife management),
  • Special Land Designations which have been through legal and locally supported planning processes. (wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, areas of critical environmental concern, special recreation areas, etc.)

Furthermore, the monument designation could impede responsible resource development and energy production in the region, jeopardizing jobs, and economic growth. Club 20 has consistently supported policies that promote energy development while safeguarding environmental quality and public health. The designation of the Colorado Dolores River Canyon National Monument may hinder these efforts, restricting our ability to harness our natural resources responsibly.

Additionally, the proposed monument designation raises concerns about federal overreach and the erosion of local control over land management decisions. Club 20 has long advocated for the preservation of local authority in matters affecting Western Colorado’s land and natural resources. However, the designation of the monument would circumvent local input and decision-making processes, undermining the democratic principles that Club 20 holds dear.

Moreover, there are additional concerns for the safety of the visitors and the infrastructure that is built into the proposed designated area. These communities are not set up infrastructure-wise to support an influx of visitors, which would be a result of the designation. We must consider the unintended consequences of inviting people that are not well versed in the area and the recreational practices that could put their lives and others at risk. This would further tie up necessary community services, such as responders and other health care services for other communities and emergencies.

The nearest EMT and search and rescue support services are located in Grand Junction, and those in emergency situations may not have hours to wait to receive care. Our rural hospitals and healthcare systems are not adequately prepared to treat the potential degrees of injury that are sure to occur. Concurrently, we would be remiss if we don’t point out the lack of accessibility to broadband or cell towers along the route, should there be an emergency.  This point highlights another unintended consequence where people travel into the remote areas of our state, yet still expect full cell or internet service. It is the wilderness.

In light of these concerns, we urge you to oppose the designation of the Colorado Dolores River Canyon National Monument and instead support alternative approaches to land management that respect the interests of local communities and stakeholders. Club 20’s resolutions provide a clear framework for achieving this goal, emphasizing the importance of balanced land management practices that prioritize economic prosperity, recreational access, and local autonomy.

In closing, we will continue to state that the best stewards of our lands and resources are those that rely on them for their livelihood. Rural communities within Colorado have documented how federal and state proposals have at times failed to address impacts to local and regional communities, such as the unintended consequences to the state at large. Once again, we see that there will be plenty of unintended consequences from this proposed designation that have not been considered.

Thank you for listening to our comments that represent the viewpoints of many of those that reside in the proposed 400,000 acres of land. I trust that you will take our advice into account as you evaluate the proposed monument designation and its potential impacts on Western Colorado communities.


Brittany Dixon

Executive Director

Club 20

Click HERE for Formal Letter

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