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‘Conservation should come from locals most affected’

I write to you as a concerned citizen, who has been actively involved in rallying opposition against the proposal of the Dolores River Canyons National Monument. Since February 20, our petition has gathered more than 5,900 signatures, reflecting a significant portion of the community that shares our concerns.

Proponents of the monument designation assure us that it will not affect mining, ranching allocations, hunting or outdoor recreation. If these statements hold true, one must question the necessity of the monument designation.

The Sheep Mountain Alliance, an openly anti-mining group, is among the proponents of this designation. It is disingenuous to claim that mining will not be affected when its stance is clear.

Similarly, a commercial boating group has shown interest in privatizing rafting on the Dolores River. This would require private citizens to apply for a permit to float the river, a recreational opportunity that currently exists without the need for a monument designation.

We believe in conservation, but we also firmly believe that conservation efforts should always come from the locals most directly affected, and be crafted with all stakeholders’ concerns identified and addressed. If these activists and special interest groups choose to stop hiding behind statements of zero impact and zero negative effects, and be honest, we could all have a much more civil conversation.

We urge all parties involved to engage in open, transparent and inclusive discussions to ensure that any decisions made will truly benefit our community and preserve our cherished lands.

Sean M. Pond