Dolores River: Sections eyed by BLM for Wild and Scenic designation

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The Bureau of Land Management is studying parts of the Dolores River for Wild and Scenic designation. Here’s a report from Kristen Plank writing for the Cortez Journal. From the article:

Approximately 32 miles of the northern Dolores River and watershed was recently evaluated in a Wild and Scenic Eligibility Report released by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Grand Junction office…

“The first thing we do during this river study is to look at eligible segments of rivers that fit into the criteria of the Wild and Scenic River Act of 1968,” said Michelle Bailey, outdoor recreation planner at the Grand Junction office. “We then ask ourselves, ‘Hey, does this segment meet the criteria?’ If the answer is yes, then we further study those segments.”[…]

The Dolores River section of the study runs from the southwest border of the Grand Junction field office, running parallel to Highway 141, through Gateway until the river reaches the Colorado-Utah border, Bailey said. Conducted during the past 12 to 14 months, the eligibility study found geological, paleontological, recreational and scenic values within the 32-mile stretch of the river. The public has 30 days to comment on the eligibility portion of the report. While a segment of a river might be found “eligible” for Wild and Scenic designation, Bailey said “it may not be suitable.”[…]

The suitability study comes next, and public comment from stakeholders and the general public is taken throughout the study. The suitability study is slated to be completed in 2011. The findings will then go into the Grand Junction field office’s resource management plan, which will give recommendations of Wild and Scenic River designations to Congress. Congress will then decide which of the rivers should be given Wild and Scenic designation.

Recently, a group known as the Lower Dolores Management Plan Working Group has been meeting monthly to give input on a comprehensive river management plan known as the 1990 Dolores River Management Plan. The Dolores Public Lands Office plans to update the management plan this fall, and the working group will help determine how best to classify the Lower Dolores River so that it receives appropriate protection. The group hopes to bypass the Wild and Scenic River designation because federal management of that portion of the river conflicts with current principles the Dolores River Dialogue – a group that meets to preserve and improve water habitats in the Dolores River Valley – has already established.

On the Net: To read the Grand Junction’s eligibility report, go to http://www.blm. gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo/rmp.html and click on “Wild & Scenic Eligibility Report.”

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