Cortez: Dolores River Dialogue meeting recap

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From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

Representatives from every major stakeholder group in the Dolores River watershed flooded the Dolores Water Conservancy District offices Tuesday for the first full meeting of the Dolores River Dialogue since October 2008. Among the items on the agenda were a presentation on the progress of the Lower Dolores Plan Working Group and a discussion of DRD restructuring. Presentations were also given on native fish populations in the Dolores, recent findings regarding salinity, the work done by the Dolores River Restoration Partnership and information on the 319 Watershed Study…

Created to examine alternatives to a Wild and Scenic River designation for the Dolores River, the group has spent the last year identifying and brainstorming around the plethora of issues involved in river protection. In early December, the group moved into the recommendation phase of the project, mindful of a June 2010 deadline to present recommendations to the Dolores Public Lands Office. “They have come up with 15 consensus recommendations,” [Facilitator Marsha Porter-Norton] said. “The recommendations are pretty solid, but this isn’t the report of the group. I would call them the bulk, but there could be some more recommendations arising.”[…]

The initial recommendations put forward by the group include a desire to continue monitoring and documenting priority archaeology and cultural resources; wildfire management by the Dolores Public Lands Office; the denial of Bradfield Bridge as a launch site at the present time; allowing a viable put-in/take-out to remain in place in the Slickrock area, although a partnership is needed to meet various needs; management of the Big Gyp recreation site rather than decommissioning the site; a continuation of the “first come/first served” policy around usage of campsites; continued partnerships for the management of tamarisk and other invasive plants; and maintaining current management practices of the four-wheel-drive road along the river from the pump station to Slickrock. Through the recommendation process, the group concluded that primary river protection must be secured to ensure the efficacy of the other action steps. “The key thing they have decided is the need for special legislation that would set up some type of area in the Lower Dolores,” Porter-Norton said. “This was arrived at by consensus at the March meeting – something that would be alternative to the Wild and Scenic designation…

In seeking an alternative to Wild and Scenic designation, the group finds itself balancing the need for environmental protection against the desires of recreational use and private land ownership. “There are really two things,” Porter-Norton said. “One is to protect the area, and yet it would also respect the economic development and private property rights. I think the group understands that the area needs to be protected and also that there are a lot of private interests involved.”[…]

The next meeting of the Dolores River Dialogue will take place in the fall. The Lower Dolores Plan Working Group will meet next at 5:30 p.m. April 19, at the Dolores Water Conservancy District. For more information, contact Porter-Norton at 247-8306. On the web: Dolores River Dialogue, http://ocs.fortlewis.edu/drd/.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here and here.

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