McInnis Canyons marks anniversary with a party

For the past decade a citizens group of land stewards has adopted some of the prettiest public lands in the Grand Valley: the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area near Fruita.

Group members are inviting the public to share in some of that outdoor splendor during celebrations today and Sunday, marking the 10th anniversary of the national-conservation-area designation.

“Our job is to make sure that the landscape we see out there is the same 50 to 75 years from today,” said Owen O’Fallon, president of the Friends of McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.

The more than 123,000 acres of sandstone arches, spires, an abundance of wildlife and paleontological resources that flank a 24-mile corridor of the Colorado River west of Grand Junction is preserved for a variety of uses:

Hikers and horseback riders frequent a scenic trail system from the Devils Canyon trail head.

Mountain bikers relish single-track trails at the Kokopelli trail head.

Boaters head down to the river to float a serene stretch of water that cuts through the steep cliffs of Ruby and Horsethief canyons.

Hunters flush wildlife from the brush.

Paleontologists dig for ancient animals.

And closer to the Colorado-Utah line, at Rabbit Valley, riders on all-terrain vehicles rev around an open playground.

Katie Stevens, McInnis Canyons National Recreation Area manager for the Bureau of Land Management, said the citizen group stepped forward to help maintain the area’s character and help develop a plan for how the area is used.

McInnis Canyons is named after former Congressman Scott McInnis, but the friends group is not a political entity, Stevens said. The area was named the Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area when it was created Oct. 24, 2000, and Congress passed a law in the fall of 2004 to rename it for McInnis. The new name took effect in January 2005.


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