Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet spoke before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in support of his Dolores River National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act.
“The Dolores River is vital to Southwest Colorado. The canyon carved by the Dolores is renowned — not just in our state, but across the country — for its majestic red rock walls that tower over the ponderosa pines,” said Bennet during the hearing. “The Dolores River is not only a critical source of water for Southwest Colorado; it is central to the region’s farming, ranching, outdoor recreation, and way of life.”
The result of more than two decades of discussion and collaboration between counties, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, water managers, conservation groups, landowners, ranchers, recreationists, and energy companies, this bill would protect over 68,000 acres of public lands in three Colorado counties of Dolores, Montezuma, and San Miguel. Senator Bennet submitted more than a dozen letters of support from conservation and outdoor recreation groups, local and Tribal governments, and a wide range of Coloradans to the committee this morning.
“The bill includes a range of designations that reflect the range interests in the Dolores River – to conserve native fish, honor water rights, and protect existing uses for farmers, ranchers, communities, and outdoor recreation,” continued Bennet during the hearing. “This bill represents a balanced, sensible way forward to resolve many of the long-standing disagreements, protect the river for all parties, and provide long-term certainty for generations.”
Bennet and Colorado U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper introduced this legislation in the U.S. Senate in July. Colorado U.S. Representatives Lauren Boebert, Doug Lamborn, and Ken Buck introduced identical legislation in August.