Renewed Push for Dolores River Monument

June 19, 2024 By: Spencer Durrant

Photo: Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

Trout Unlimited (TU) and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) have renewed their push for a national monument along the Dolores River in Colorado. Along with those conservation groups, the effort is also supported by Colorado senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, both Democrats, and Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican.

The push for a national monument on the Dolores River is driven by a desire to protect its “world-class hunting and fishing opportunities” that face “threats from industrial-scale mining, habitat fragmentation, climate change, and unmanaged recreation,” according to a TU press release.

The Dolores River watershed is home to some of Colorado’s most sought-after hunting units for elk, mule deer, and desert bighorn sheep. The rivers tributaries also hold wild populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout.

If the national monument is achieved, it would conserve almost 70,000 acres of currently public lands. The monument designation outlaws development, and TU says this monument designation would ensure the land is “managed to enhance fishing and hunting opportunity.”

Sportsmen for the Dolores, a group of hunters and anglers sponsored by TU and BHA, also supports the initiative, saying it represents a broad swath of hunters and anglers across Colorado.

Per the TU press release, “Sportsmen for the Dolores seeks to permanent conserve the Dolores River watershed, critical to retaining its high-quality sporting values. The coalition supports a national monument designation as a means to achieve that conservation goal and is committed to ensuring a final Dolores Canyons National Monument aligns with principles…to receive the support of hunters, anglers and sporting businesses.”

Hunting is allowed in national monuments on a case-by-case basis, while fishing is generally allowed. Hunting would have to be specifically written into the monument’s proclamation in order to ensure longterm access for hunters.

You can visit the Sportsmen for the Dolores website to learn more about this push for monument status.