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ICYMI: Hickenlooper Visits Naturita and Grand Junction to Hear from Locals on Proposed Dolores Canyons National Monument

May 2, 2024

In case you missed it, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper recently traveled to Naturita and Grand Junction to hold two listening sessions on the proposal to establish a national monument to protect 400,000 acres of the Dolores River corridor and surrounding lands.

Hickenlooper has yet to take a position on the monument. The visit was an opportunity to engage the communities that live closest to the landscape on the monument proposal, and to see the landscape first hand.

Several hundred people attended each of the listening sessions.

Check out what they’re saying:

Colorado Public Radio: Factions form around Dolores National Monument idea

Sen. Hickenlooper entered the monument conversation in April with a West Slope trip focused on the region and the debate.

Hickenlooper has not taken a position on the monument idea. As a part of the tour, Colorado’s junior senator and former governor scheduled listening sessions in Naturita and Grand Junction,  where he was met by two very different audiences.

…Hickenlooper told reporters following the event in Grand Junction that he felt there was common ground between the groups, even if the most fervent moments of the weekend — or comments on Facebook — might suggest otherwise.

“Once people hear all the sides, I think they will be more willing to compromise. Maybe not get what they want, not their perfect outcome, but they’ll get (to), ‘yeah, I can live with that.’ And that’s where generally that outcome is the more durable, lasting benefit to a community,” Hickenlooper said.

There has still yet to be any introduction of legislation to protect the Dolores in either Mesa or Montrose counties in Congress, and Biden has not given any indication that he’d use his presidential powers there.

Hickenlooper said he plans to spend the next few months taking more feedback before landing on a position.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: Hickenlooper: ‘Two good days’ of input on monument proposal

After several hundred people turned out at listening sessions U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper hosted Friday and Saturday on a proposed national monument for the Dolores River region, he says he has learned a lot and will return to Washington with five pages of notes to review.

It’s been two long days, but two good days,” he told reporters at the end of a session at Colorado Mesa University on Saturday, after another one held Friday in Naturita.

He promised those at the CMU event that he’ll continue returning to the region to hear more from those on various sides of the issue.

“I will be back out again and again over the course of the spring and summer to try and hear as much as I can,” he said.

Hickenlooper held the sessions in response to a proposal by the Protect the Dolores coalition for a monument that in its current draft form would cover some 391,000 acres in Mesa and Montrose counties. The initiative also has given rise to a Halt the Dolores Monument movement in opposition to the idea.

Supporters of the idea are hoping to get support from Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, both D-Colo., as they press the Biden administration to get President Biden to designate the monument. Hickenlooper hasn’t taken a position yet on the issue, and said Saturday he expects to have some opinions on the matter at the end of the listening process in four or five months.

…Speaking to reporters, Hickenlooper voiced interest not only in hearing from a wide range of people, but in having people hear from each other.

“Colorado is I think a national model of how successful we can be working through these issues, and once people hear all sides I think they will be more willing to compromise, maybe not get what they want, not their perfect outcome, but they’ll get something that, ‘yeah, I can live with that.’ Generally that outcome is a more durable and lasting benefit to a community.”

LISTEN: KOTO Radio: Opposition towards Conservation Effort Brings Senator Hickenlooper to the West End

TRANSCRIPT: It’s a stormy spring day out in the desert, the kind of blustery weather which might usually keep folks close to home out in the rural west end of Montrose County. But not so on this particular Friday: the gym at the old Natarita High School is packed with residents who have turned out to address US Senator John Hickenlooper.

The Senator’s visit is prompted by a growing campaign asking President Biden to name a National Monument along the Dolores River as it carves north through stunning red rock canyons in Montrose in Mesa counties on to the Utah border. 

…Hickenlooper keeps his comments brief. In both opening and closing, he emphasizes again and again he wants to hear from the community.

 “I’m going to listen,” he says. “I’m going to come out here, I’m going to spend as much time with you as you’ll give me, and we’ll work to the best of our ability to try and find common ground.”

At the session’s conclusion, the crowd packs up and disperses into the spring afternoon.

Senator Hickenlooper moved on to a listening session in Grand Junction, where the City Council has unanimously endorsed the conservation effort.

Conservation groups making up the Protect the Dolores Coalition hope to see Biden name a monument before November’s election.

Montrose Daily Press: Hickenlooper gets an earful from Naturita crowd on monument proposal

LISTEN: Colorado Public Radio: Hickenlooper Holds Listening Sessions in Naturita and Grand Junction

LISTEN: NPR: Hickenlooper Holds Listening Session in Naturita

WATCH: KKCO Grand Junction: Hickenlooper Hosts Listening Sessions in Naturita and Grand Junction

WATCH: KJCT Grand Junction: Hickenlooper Hosts Listening Sessions on Proposed Dolores River Canyons National Monument


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