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Thank you, senators, for NCA

If you ask any longtime boater in Southwest Colorado their favorite local river, chances are they will tell you the Dolores River. With soaring terracotta sandstone cliffs and towering old-growth Ponderosa pines, it’s impossible not to crave the solitude that comes along with those early spring days spent on the river.

Given how special the Dolores River is, we are elated to see Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper introduce legislation in the U.S. Senate that would create a National Conservation Area and Special Management Area, along portions of the Dolores River in Montezuma, Dolores and San Miguel counties.

If passed, these designations would provide much-needed management resources, prescribe additional landscape protections and ensure diverse interests are at the table when making important decisions.

Despite the lack of boatable flows most years, the Dolores River still provides abundant recreational opportunities for small boats, hiking, biking and fishing. This area is attracting more visitors each year, and local land managers need to get ahead of future increases in use. An NCA designation would do just that.

As the owners of Alpacka Raft based in Mancos, we understand the value of well-protected and well-managed rivers and public lands both for our business, and the quality of life for our staff and community members. Well-crafted conservation legislation allows local businesses and communities to thrive well into the future. The Dolores River is one of Southwest Colorado’s most treasured areas, and we hope to see it gain long-term protection.

Sarah Tingey