From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):
The Lower Dolores River Plan Working Group will meet at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14, at the Lewis-Arriola Community Center, 21176 County Road S, to kick-off the recommendation and brainstorming phase. The group will meet again Jan. 19, Feb. 16 and March 15. The intention is to hand recommendations to the Dolores Public Lands Office in April.
More from the article:
Created to examine alternatives to a Wild and Scenic River designation for the Dolores River, the group spent the past year identifying and brainstorming around the plethora of issues involved in river protection. “What we have done the last year is a really intensive education process with the group around the whole area,” said Marsha Porter-Norton, facilitator of the Dolores River Dialogue. “If we are going to ask people to come up with recommendations for the future, we felt it was important that they were really steeped in knowledge.”
The group focused on the five primary reaches of the Dolores River covered by the planning area and then examined the “Outstandingly Remarkable Values” within each reach. “Through a grant that we have, we had a person gather every conceivable piece of information related to the ORV in each reach,” Porter-Norton said. “We looked at it from a 20,000 foot level and then from the ground level.” The identified ORVs along the Lower Dolores include archaeology/cultural resources, scenery, geology, hiking in Bull Canyon and Coyote Wash, rafting, roundtail chub, plants, and the canyon treefrog. The Dolores Public Lands Office posed a series of questions to the group relating to each ORV. The group was then divided into small groups that brainstormed tools, strategies and recommendations for each question. Some issues have garnered a good deal of consensus, and others have been harder to address. “Nothing in this process is easy,” Porter-Norton said. “We are taking some of the issues where I think there is a good amount of consensus and starting there. For the next six months we are going to delve into the landscape and water protection issues. That is where the alternative to the Wild and Scenic designation comes in.” The group has been charged with the task of determining if the river and surrounding area should keep the Wild and Scenic designation or if there is an alternative protection mechanism…
The working group comprises 58 members who represent a wide range of stakeholder positions. From public land managers to property owners, water managers to rafters and rafting companies, U.S. Bureau of Land Management officers to oil and gas company representatives, the group has a diverse range of values. Despite that, the group has not allowed differing opinions to stand in the way of progress, Porter-Norton said. “I have to say, speaking very personally, this group is fabulous,” she said. “You have people who have very different views, in some cases, who have been willing and able to engage in learning. They are really able to talk about things and disagree in a very productive way.”