The Dolores River in Colorado should be protected

The Dolores River is a popular Colorado spot for camping, fishing and rafting. The river should be preserved for future generations.

The Dolores River flows for more than 200 miles through southwestern Colorado, starting high in the San Juan Mountains and descending to its confluence with the Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah border.

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A summer recreation destination

Now that summer is in full swing, we are all looking for the perfect outdoor destinations and activities to enjoy beautiful Colorado. One such destination is the scenic Dolores River, starting in the La Plata Mountains and winding through Paradox Valley. This river provides beautiful views and recreation opportunities including fishing,  camping near the banks and rafting to Dolores, Montezuma, and San Miguel counties. 

A change for permanent protection

Protecting the Dolores will keep the water clean for the people and businesses who depend on it. That’s why Democratic U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and a Congress member they rarely agree with, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, have introduced the bipartisan Dolores River National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act. If passed, this bill will designate the river as a National Conservation Area (NCA) and protect 68,000 acres of public land from new development, mining and other harmful activities. 

A haven for animals 

When camping or rafting in the Dolores River Canyon, visitors will see beautiful juniper, spruce and aspen trees as well as cactus and sagebrush lower to the ground. The animals that take refuge in the canyon include raptors such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons, big cats such as mountain lions and bobcats, and other critters such as bighorn sheep, river otters and mule deer. The bill would help these wildlife species since they rely on clean water from the river, and an undisturbed habitat. 

Clean water for the community

Conserving the natural state of the river and its clean water will also benefit people. Communities in the area rely on the river for drinking water, farming, and fishing, so farmers, ranchers, recreationalists, water managers, environmentalists and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe all support the designation of Dolores River as a conservation area. 

We’re building support to make sure the Dolores River National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act passes both the House and the Senate. 


Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America

Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.

Hannah Jaffe

Environment Colorado Intern

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