E19: Road Trip! Dolores River Canyon Country with Bella Harris of Colorado Wildlands Project

We already have one national monument nearby…what if we had another? Bella Harris of the Colorado Wildlands Project explains why her organization is advocating for the creation of a National Monument for the Dolores River Canyon Country, not only to protect the natural environment, but also to preserve and honor the layers of human history of the area.

Bella explains why land protections for the Dolores have bipartisan support when so little does today. We chat about the most effective ways to change bad outdoors behavior, why no one with water allotments needs to be worried about losing water, and why she’s not concerned about a monument designation “ruining” the area.

Also – listen closely to find out which local winery is extra invested in the effort to protect the Dolores, how you can help, and lots more!

For more about the Colorado Wildlands Project: cowildlands.org

Petition link: protectthedolores.org

Bella’s email: bella@cowildlands.org

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.    


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Welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast about the people and places that make our slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m Lisa McNamara.

So we already have one national monument nearby…what if we had another? Today I’m talking with Bella Harris of the Colorado Wildlands Project. The Colorado Wildlands Project works to protect wild public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. One of their major goals is creating a National Monument in the Dolores River Canyon Country, south of Gateway. Bella, based in Palisade, is a Wildlands Campaigner.

Bella explains to me why a National Monument is so important, not only to protect the natural environment, but to preserve and honor the layers of human history of the area, from the ancestral homeland of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe to the more recent work sites of the miners whose sacrifices contributed to the Manhattan project. Yes, that Manhattan project!

Bella explains the difference between the proposed National Conservation Area currently moving through the bureaucracy of DC and the National Monument that her organization is advocating, and why these ideas actually have bipartisan support, when so little does today. We chat about the most effective ways to change bad outdoors behavior, why no one with water allotments needs to be worried about losing water – at least, not because of the monument, and why she’s not concerned about a monument designation “ruining” the area.

Also – listen closely to find out which local winery is extra invested in the effort to protect the Dolores, how you can help, and lots more. Let’s take a late fall road trip to the Dolores River Canyon Country on today’s Postcard from Palisade. 

LM: thank you so much for coming in

BH: thank you for having me I’m really happy to be here

LM: I am really I was really excited to talk to you and this is well let’s talk about who you are first so if you could introduce yourself

BH: so my name is Bella Harris my role is the wildlands campaigner at the Colorado wildlands project we’re a very small nonprofit here at based in Grand Junction it’s me and two other employees and overall our organization works to advocate for and protect Wilderness quality and wild public lands that are based in western Colorado

LM: how did you get into doing this

BH: I’m actually really happy that’s your first question I was in college back in Fort Collins I was actually getting my PhD in environmental Communications and science Communications I decided that I didn’t want to be going down the academic route anymore and so I dropped out of school and I quit my job and I moved back home

I’m from Grand Junction originally and so I moved back home here and started working at a local children’s museum here in town just kind of doing front desk management stuff and one day my high school social studies teacher came in and we recognized each other and I told them I said you know this this museum is great but I I would really prefer to be using my Master’s Degree in a job that’s a little bit more fulfilling than this and he said well I don’t know what you’ve seen but my best friend from like back in my 20s is hiring for a community organizer in environmental advocacy you may want to look into it

LM: that is so funny

BH: and I looked it up and that day that he told me was the day that the application for the job closed and so I took the rest of the day to write up an application and I got it

LM: that is wow

BH: and so I I I bring him lots of treats for his family as often as I can because I’m very thankful to him for getting me set up with this job but that’s how I found it

LM: that is so awesome I I mean because there aren’t probably a ton of jobs in that field here in this area it’s not a huge area and then

BH: yeah you know Grand Junction’s really been changing at least from when I went to when I graduated high school here back in 2014 back then there really there was nothing it was a lot of oil and gas jobs around just the economy was a lot more towards that spectrum and honestly since I left and came back it’s incredible how fast the Grand Junction slash Palisade Fruita just the Grand Valley Community has changed as a whole

it is much more environmentally focused now at at least from what I see from where it used to be I mean I go by Trail life brewing in Grand Junction or the Palisade Brewing here in town and I see so many people that are mountain bikers climbers skiers there people that are recreating in the outdoors all the time and so I think there are a lot of opportunities for environmental jobs here I think it when I had first come back a lot of these jobs ebb and flow with the season

LM: yeah

BH: there’s definitely more available at warmer times of the year than there are colder times of the year and that’s just the nature of we’re outside a lot of the time

LM: right

BH: so I think that was my biggest issue there but there’s there’s a lot of incredible organizations here in town that are doing really similar work to us

LM: so the Colorado wildlands project what are are your main goals or what are the kind of main priorities that you’re working on

BH: so our mission really is to protect wild we say wild public lands managed by the BLM in western Colorado so that’s you know Wilderness quality public lands that are protected by Wilderness designations or Wilderness study areas or not protected there’s many many acres of land that are wilderness quality that are not protected

we use a couple different ways to define that there really isn’t a clear definition of wilderness lands but an absence of like a certain percentage of roads like below a certain percentage of roads not a lot of housing development difficult to get to maybe having to backpack into some of these lands it’s just a you know having really really rich ecosystems for rare plants and wildlife all of these are things that can conglomerate together to define wilderness so that’s what we focus on on those lands that are managed by the BLM we work in a couple different ways we work in political advocacy for these lands as well as getting new protections long-term permanent protections designated on these lands

LM: because for somebody who isn’t really familiar with the the many complicated years of land management and land protection I think for just the person on the street they might say oh well it’s Bureau of Land Management land it’s protected already

BH: yeah

LM: but if you have ever been to some blm land you know that basically anything goes

BH: yes yeah

LM: so it is it’s set aside in a like how would you describe like the level of protection it has compared to what you would want it to have

BH: and so I’ll just bring up for for example because this is what I’m hoping to talk about the most is the Dolores River Canyon Country that is surrounding the Dolores River so I’ll I’ll just bring up that area of BLM land for example there are small designated Wilderness study areas throughout the Dolores landscape they sort of go along the river but they’re sporadic they’re not connected and they only again protect little segments along the river not really doing a lot to protect the the river and the surrounding desert landscape as a whole

and so yes those are great they keep future oil and gas leasing from being able to be developed on those lands as well as keeping more aggressive forms of maybe off-road recreation off those lands and it’s some really good longer term protections but on the other parts of that landscape in the Dolores there is active mining operations oil and gas leasing and if you drive through through it you will see a a lot of disruption on the landscape from those operations

and so that is something one of our other employees his name is Soren Jasperson he lives in Steamboat Springs he’s our field director and his main goal is to actually be physically getting through this landscape and documenting some of this damage on some of these lands that don’t have protection yet so that we use real evidence you know and pictures and testimonies to be able to advocate for them and I think that’s a really special difficult job that he has but he does a great job at it

LM: sounds awesome I’ve been over in that area and just exploring that area and it’s so it is kind of it’s hard to get to it’s incredibly beautiful uh it’s disconnected from a lot of major cities it’s mostly off dirt roads and things like that so I think that it’s easy to it’s easy for people not to ever have known that it’s there or to forget about it

BH: exactly

LM: and one of the things that I was really surprised to see in that area is that there’s a lot of like uranium mines and things like that which is interesting

BH: what I think is something really special about the Dolores is not I mean not only is it an incredibly rich landscape and biodiversity but there’s a whole other value to the Dolores and that’s its different layers of history it is the ancestral land of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe and so that’s a huge part of that history there you can go through if you know where to look you can find petroglyphs hieroglyphs throughout the whole area

it’s really really rich in in that in that indigenous history but there’s also a very rich and important history in uranium mining in that area and I think that’s something that you know in addition to all the other values of the Dolores needs to be protected there are many families and bloodlines of people in Naturita near Gateway Nucla that have a very important history where their you know great grandparents great grandparents helped move the US forward in our history and you know whether you want to look at this as a good thing or a bad thing but in our efforts in the cold war and World War II the Manhattan Project was almost solely supplied by uranium that came from the Dolores

I think that that’s one of the biggest I don’t want to say complaints but questions that I get when I talk about our efforts to create a new National monument in this area is people are automatically assuming that we want to erase that history and try to say no we don’t want mining here at all we just want it to have this natural beauty and that’s not the case we do have plans put in place to have interpretive messaging highlighting this history again the you know there’s there’s the scenic beauty but then these different types of human history that are present in the area we really want to preserve that and honor that

LM: yeah that makes sense I saw last spring I think it was last spring there is actually a bill introduced it was bipartisan support from our Colorado lawmakers to create is it a national or natural Conservation Area

BH: National Conservation Area

LM: okay so how is that different from a national monument and what would the path be to create something like a National Monument instead of a National Conservation Area

BH: yeah so what we say is that we love the idea of this NCA being being produced and this and so this NCA is proposed on the area of the dolores is actually more so near the town of Dolores near like Montezuma County actually Dolores County

LM: that’s only a little piece of the river

BH: exactly so and that’s what’s been proposed as the National Conservation area right now

LM: interesting

BH: and that is again a National Conservation Area is a very long-term very durable protection plan for that area but as you just stated it only looks at a very small portion of the river and again what we’re proposing is that we want more of the river to be protected than than just that small area

Overall the Colorado wildlands project as well as our coalition of other conservationists organizations and stakeholders are coming together and asking for solutions that protect the entirety of the lower Dolores River Canyon Country from the McPhee Dam in Southwest Colorado to the Utah state line and that includes lands in Montrose and Mesa counties so that’s all the land of the Dolores that’s near us such as slick Rock Canyon and the hanging Flume Confluence area and all the areas near gateway

so that’s why we wanted to propose a National Monument because really the main reason is that a National Monument is able to encompass more acreage than other protection plans would and we hope to get as much of the canyon land surrounding the river I like to say that because it really kind of is a buffer around the river as as much as possible

LM: even just for the NCA I was really surprised to see that it had bipartisan support because almost nothing does now so why why do you think that is

BH: I think that protecting land surrounding the Dolores River checks off a lot of boxes for a lot of peoples and a lot of political interests so a lot of individual interests a lot of political interests it helps recreators be able to protect the land that they want to recreate on it ensures that you know like us as environmental groups that we have protected wildlands we have protected habitat but a lot of times it also makes sure that water is staying in the area and that it can benefit agricultural landscapes and there’s when you are protecting a river system like that it it really benefits a lot of different stakeholder interests and I was really happy to see that you know several people including Bennett and Hickenlooper both are very supportive of that National Conservation Area that’s really great to hear

LM: yeah one of the articles that I read in the Colorado Sun from last spring also talked about a survey that had been done of voters in the area where over 75% of the people they surveyed were supportive of a national monument in the area which again if you were to ask me just kind of my gut feel I never would have guessed that so it’s really interesting to see that this does seem to be something that everybody kind of can come around and support

BH: and something too I just want to say about that survey 90% of people in that survey said that they wanted some form of permanent protection on the Dolores so even a higher percent were in support of something of a protective effort

LM: that’s amazing and so you know it’s like okay everybody’s behind it the local people want it why can’t what does it take to just make it happen

BH: a lot of these designations that are put in by the BLM Wilderness study areas or the National Conservation Area are done through the Senate however when you’re looking at a National Monument a National Monument can only be designated presidentially it takes whoever is president at the time to sign off and say that they declare an area a national monument

and so what our goal is and I say us and I’m referring to the wildlands project but I’m also referring to the coalition as a whole we are in a coalition of several other nonprofits across Colorado working together towards this effort and we want to create a sense of political inevitability where if it’s President Biden whoever is president after him feels like it’s the obvious choice to do this because they’re they’re hearing about it over and over and over again and because so many people are saying we need this land to be protected that it’s just at the forefront of their mind

so again it’s that it’s that inevitability that we’re hoping to be creating

LM: so how do you do that how do you keep that in front of people and like make them not forget about it other than going on a local podcast

BH: I think that there’s two separate parts to that right there’s grassroots organizing which is a lot of what I do and that’s educating the public on and I don’t like to say educating the public on like the Dolores and why it’s important I I more so like to frame it as though I like to encourage people to see how their own lives and their own livelihoods are connected to this landscape and help them discover that for themselves

it you know it doesn’t work if I if I just go up to you and say you should like blah blah blah River because it’s important and then I say okay sign this that’s not I wouldn’t want that you know and so something that I’ve learned over the years is I think that I’ve succeeded in my goal of organizing in grassroots communities by again helping people develop that personal relationship and even if that takes time sometimes that’s not done in one visit that they have with me at a tabling event it’s it’s them thinking okay well this is my job in this valley how is that connected to what’s going on there this is my family history in this area how is that connected to these efforts that are going on there and if they can think about that more I I have had success you know

and and luckily I am able to show many many people across the Grand Valley pretty quickly how their lives are connected to the Dolores but I think a bigger part of that too is trying to help people families find accessible ways to get out there a lot of people think that you can only get on the Dolores by boating it and that’s not true there’s a lot of easy hikes there’s a lot of difficult hikes there are incredible views you can get by stepping 50 feet out of your car and it’s an hour away from Grand Junction

I say it I’m mainly referring to Gateway that’s a really good kind of starting point to get to a lot of areas great accessible camping and I want people to know that they don’t have to be a world-class rafter to be able to get out there or an intense backpacker to be able to get out there so but then the other part of that where my boss our director Scott Braden what he focuses on more is the the opposite of that grassroots effort which is the grasstops efforts

so a lot more of his work is talking to very influential people in our community whether that’s politicians influential business owners or leaders of other groups organizations coalitions that have a lot of say within the Grand Valley and working with them to try to gain support and if the support is not there to try to find some middle ground so you know he’s the one that’s going out to Denver to talk to our elected officials out there and over to DC to talk to our elected officials out there

and it’s two very different types of organizing and I feel like I always like to say that Scott and I really compliment each other well we have very different skill sets that complement each other but that work really well in those two separate areas of organizing and there’s definitely overlap there

we just had a screening last night of our there was a film that was made sort of talking about this effort to to create permanent protections on the Dolores its called the river of Sorrows and we did have a like a touring of the film a couple months ago but this this one was a little bit later in the season

we had it at the University at Colorado Mesa University and I thought that was a really cool sort of overlap between our efforts to try to gain public support because from my end I had several students and teachers there who I’ve been working with for the students to like problem solve and create their own solutions for challenges in the area and I was so happy that they a ton of them came but at the same time time we had the mayor of Grand Junction there to speak Anna Stout was there and it was a very good mingling of grassroots and grasstops efforts of a bunch of people that have fallen in love with this landscape

LM: there there’s an older movie River of Sorrow that’s out that’s kind of similar but maybe like 8-10 years old or so

BH: I think made back in 2016

LM: 16 okay

BH: they were both made by the same company by Cody Perry he is an incredible charismatic fun-loving advocate for the Dolores he’s an he’s an amazing filmmaker just being able to talk to him is a treat really he’s so passionate and he’s so I’m just going to repeat it again he is the definition of charisma

LM: that’s awesome

BH: and is a really great honestly like spokesperson for for our efforts and so he’s the filmmaker for both of those incredibly kind person he and his wife his wife works at the Dolores River boating Advocates and who is another very big player in our coalition efforts and they both live down in Dolores

you know the film is incredible the river of Sorrows it’s it’s it’s made me cry time and time again especially like the interviews he’s able to get and some of the people that he has speaking in it come with the most incredible stories and the most amazing backgrounds

but at the same time I really want people to remember that you know the film follows two pack rafters people that are trying to boat the Dolores when it is its seven single digit seven CFS and that there is a whole canyon country surrounding that river to explore and that even if the river is not flowing there’s there is so much beauty beyond the river and I hope that people take the time to go out there even if they can’t access the river or if they or if it’s or if it’s not flowing

LM: that’s a really good point yeah that you don’t want people to get too focused on on just the river to the exclusion of everything else that there is around there yeah good point

it’s really hard not to talk about water though and like water in the west and water rights and everything and I think a lot of people when they hear about preserving an area they worry about what they’re going to lose so in this situation though it it seems like well and now correct me if I’m wrong but based on what I’ve read it seems like the water kind of allotments and allocations that are already in place like those can’t be touched those aren’t going anywhere so

BH: you’re completely right it doesn’t matter what kind of protections we get put on this if we got a National Monument to go on the upper and lower Dolores it wouldn’t be changing the flow of the McPhee Dam it wouldn’t be changing the priority that this landscape gets of water coming from the McPhee Dam which in itself is a very complicated issue

a lot of that water you know yes a lot of it is going to large scale agriculture there is also a huge promised allotment that is supposed to be going to the Ute Mountain Ute tribe and their efforts to have clean drinking water and agricultural efforts are they really getting that allotted amount of water not always you know

but it’s not as easy as just oh if we took out the dam everything would be okay you know that would put a lot of communities in jeopardy so it’s a it’s a very complicated issue and that’s why for myself and my organizing efforts I’ve really been just trying to encourage people to find beauty and find positivity and find potential and opportunity in the canyon country and really focus on the canyon country

LM: the other negative and again this is not my personal opinion but just other things that that people say or other concerns that they express when they hear about designating an area as a monument or national park or something like that is like oh there’s going to be tons of tourists they’re going to overrun the place and it’s just going to become another Moab you know like everything everything that I hear is like oh it’s just gonna be another Moab um so how do you like are you concerned about that and then how do you counter that kind of objection

BH: yeah so I’m very happy you brought this up because it’s one of my favorite things to talk about with people when they bring it up to me I want to first say that I completely understand that there are a lot of landscapes across the US in Moab even here in Colorado if we look at Hanging Lake if we look at Maroon Bells you know when I was in college and I was studying in Environmental Conservation we would refer to this as an area being loved to death and that they’re overrun with people

And a lot of people are choosing to make decisions in recreation on that landscape that are not beneficial to the integrity of the landscape or future people wanting to get out and enjoy it this might be my own just blind optimism into the future but I am very I strongly believe that when you have a landscape like this and if we got a National Monument designated let’s just say it happened tomorrow there would be a lot more resources available to create better more effective interpretation in the area that would encourage safe recreation and recreation for the purpose of conservation

and I really I I encourage anybody listening to this to instead of thinking that human impact on a landscape is initially going to be bad and that it is in opposition to environmental protection and to landscape conservation let’s think of it as an influencing factor to conservation human humans belong in nature nature belongs in us

and we if we look at recreation and human impact on these landscapes as something that can be used to benefit conservation and I don’t mean that it’s always going to benefit but at least that it’s an influencing factor and not an opposing factor I think that that could really shift conversations around how we try to guide recreation in a way that it does reach that goal

a lot of my background in my professional background is in Environmental Education and we a lot of times focus on instead of if we see somebody not picking up after their dog if we see somebody with a motorized vehicle in a natural area area instead of just saying oh I’m going to call the ranger on you you’re going to get a fine and get in trouble I’m going to go up and say hey it seems like you’re really enjoying what you’re doing but did you know that you know this is how dog poop being left out could affect the landscape and if you’re coming back here next week like how often do you come out here if you come back here do you want to see that same pile of poop here or a different pile of poop and if your friends are coming out here with you do you think they’re going to want to see that

and I try to encourage people to gain a sense of personal responsibility and and and it doesn’t always work out and I understand that but I really believe heavily in the power of personal responsibility when it comes to sustainable recreation

LM: and I can see how that approach and that attitude would be would still have a lot more success than just yelling at somebody making them feel defensive and angry and like just uh that seems like it would actually get through to more people like you’re not going to get through to everybody but more people than the other approach

BH: and I think the same goes for the Dolores I it makes me really sad actually when I hear people say oh but we don’t want that area to be taken away from us like that’s our special I hear a lot of recreators or just users of the Dolores say oh but that’s like my playground you know where they kind of see it as though they’re like this is an area that not that many people know of and we want to keep it that way you know what are your kids going to say to that I mean like maybe your children you’ll be able to show them cool places but what about their friends what about their future classmates you know don’t you want them to be able to get out there too

and that’s what I like to bring up to people is you know the more people that we can get out on a landscape to recreate sustainably and responsibly and and again a National Monument designation would be able to get more resources into the area to be able to do that better and guide that better I think that’s the best future we could we could possibly want and so that these areas don’t just get ignored and then engulfed in ulterior uses like oil and gas drilling because nobody’s out there nobody sees it happening

LM: good point like share your toys right

BH: yeah

LM: so how can people get involved if they want to help

BH: yes so we do have a public petition that we have available it is you can find it at the official protectthedolores.org

LM: okay

BH: it’s a very easy just online petition you can also put a little blurb about why you love the Dolores and public lands in general that’s a great first step a big part of us being able to succeed in this work is getting enough people publicly voicing their support and that’s a hard thing to do for a lot of people I understand that and so that’s a really great first step

for anybody that wants to go beyond that we are always looking for people who are open to and excited to write letters to the editor to local newspapers like the Daily Sentinel or opinion editorials especially when it comes to LTEs or letters the editor we have drafted ones that we can give you and that you can change up the way that you you want it to reflect your voice and that’s of course just if you don’t think you have the time to write one you know and then we make it super easy just give you the the link that you can submit it to

and that is incredibly helpful because that’s showing a grasstops section of our community which is local news and local you know communications like that showing them that people want this to happen so that’s an incredibly beneficial way that people can help out you can reach out to me and and I can get you set up with that

we you know and if you want to take the time on your own you know write a letter to Senator Bennett or Senator Hickenlooper you know Senator Bennett especially is very very interested in this work we recently did get him out on the landscape in a field trip and he was excited to public to publicly state that he wanted permanent protections on the Dolores and so I think writing to him or to Hickenlooper

I was talking about some of these fifth grade students that I worked with a couple months ago I believe they’re writing a letter to Biden to ask for these permanent protections which I think is incredibly special so those are ways

and then you know if you sign up for like the Colorado Wildland project mailing list we don’t send out a lot but we do send out invitations to any Dolores related events that are going on we try to be involved in every one that’s going on within anywhere near the Grand Valley we can help you get there you know attending those events is a huge way to support us

soon and I’m very happy to actually talk about this this kind of to the public now we are working with a local winery here in Palisade called Sauvage Spectrum to get a custom wine label for the Dolores put on on some bottles and so once that comes out purchasing those 10% of the profits are going to be going to the wildlands project directly that benefits our work into the future

and you know if there’s ways that you you can that you think you can support us in a way that I haven’t mentioned again reach out to me I’ll stay I’ll I’ll stay in contact you can call me you can email me I love to talk with people in our community

I would love to be getting some new pictures from people of the Dolores that we can post on our social media that we can post on our website that we can make fliers out of obviously we’ll credit anybody who sends them to us but I would love to have those or if you you have a unique perspective on the landscape we’re always looking for speakers at different events you can have the chance to speak at some sort of like a storytelling event about your your unique experiences on the landscape so there’s a lot of different ways that you can help

LM: that’s awesome so how can people reach you what’s your I’ll put the link in there in the notes

BH: so you can um email me Bella(at)cowildlands.org I’m not going to put my phone number out there and also just if you look up the Colorado wildlands project website again we’re a very small group of people you’ll pretty quickly find me in the staff page and you can email me through there as well

LM: alright well it’s awesome to talk to you I can tell that you are just so passionate about this and you can tell it really inspires you and excites you to work in this industry

BH: it does you know something that I think inspires me that I’ve gained inspiration for the most since getting this job and being in this land landscape is looking at the issues of access in the Dolores because it just made me really sad to see so many people feeling like they couldn’t really get out onto the landscape because they weren’t able to raft they weren’t able to boat or spend multiple days out on the landscape camping

I mean if you can camp out there oh my god the stars will blow your mind but not everybody has that option not everybody has that ability to access the area in that way I I’ve never boated the Dolores and sometimes you know people are a little shocked by that I work in this coalition and I have never had the opportunity to be able to afford or have the gear to boat the Dolores the only

and I love the area I’ve spent days and days out there but it’s just been through driving around it hiking it seeing the incredible geology of the area the plants and the wildlife of the area seeing some of the very unique ecosystems out there if you all want to look up a really cool thing look up the Unaweep seep so in unaweep Canyon there is a very unique ecosystem called the seep where it’s basically a riparian ecosystem on the side of a hill

LM: cool

BH: and because of water that’s seeping out of the mountain it’s beautiful you know go find those areas

and that’s I think that’s where my passion really comes from is I want people to know that even if getting a National Monument out there takes a long time even if it doesn’t happen we have our own slice of Utah super close to us right there and then we can be supporting local Colorado economies by going there going to the general store in Gateway and I just hope that any of you out there choose to take a day trip out there

LM: yeah yeah perfect fall drive winter drive I mean anytime drive awesome well thank you so much it’s great to talk to you I can’t wait to go back now to go back and just visit again but thank you so much for your time

BH: thank you

LM: When we moved to Palisade, one of the first things I did was pore over the maps of the surrounding area, taking in all the nearby adventures. The Dolores, squiggling through a section of land south of Gateway, tucked behind the La Sals, immediately caught my attention.

Soon after, on a weekend adventure, Paul and I headed that way via Unaweep canyon, through Gateway and what my friend LisaMarie laughed at me for calling Naturita, on our way to some of our favorite mountain biking trails by Norwood.

Have you been over that way? You know when you think an area’s going to be great, but then it’s so much more? Like, how are people not just constantly gushing about this place?

Go check it out, then sign that petition to make the area a national monument. There’s a link to it in the show notes. Write a letter to the president with your kids, with your friends. Wouldn’t it be cool to help make something big happen in our lifetimes?

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

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