Canyons area bill signed into law

President Obama on Monday signed the Omnibus Public Lands Bill, which includes creation of the 210,000-acre Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area on the Uncompahgre Plateau.

Included within that area will be the 60,000-acre Dominguez Canyon Wilderness. In addition, the measure creates nearly 250,000 acres of wilderness within Rocky Mountain National Park.

Nationwide, the bill designates more than 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states. It also
grants permanent status to the National Landscape Conservation System, of which Dominguez–Escalante will be a part. The system encompasses about 26 million acres.

In prepared comments Monday, Matt Garrington, field director of Environment Colorado, praised the actions of Congress and Obama and the local implications of those actions.

“Dominguez Canyon will be treasured for generations to come thanks to today’s wilderness legislation. Its red rock walls and petroglyphs rival many of the canyons in the West,” he said.

Garrington credited Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., “for his great work to bring broad and diverse support for this legislation in Washington.”

However, Delta resident Terry Kimber believes the efforts leading to the protections of the Dominguez-Escalante area were not as inclusive as they could have been. The way the wilderness area was drawn, some roads come to a stop at arbitrary locations rather than natural boundaries, Kimber said. He said federal officials attended local meetings but failed to consider the needs of ranchers and others who use those roads.

“They go back to Congress and draw those boundaries up without regard to what our comments were,” Kimber said.

The omnibus bill brought together more than 150 individual public lands bills. In a statement accompanying the bill signing, Obama cited Rocky Mountain National Park, Oregon’s Mount Hood and Zion National Park in Utah as being among “treasured places from coast to coast” that will benefit from the measure’s protections.

“This bipartisan bill has been many years in the making, and is one of the most important pieces of natural resource legislation in decades,” he said.


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