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Movement to make stretch of Arkansas River a national monument passes first hurdle

July 23, 2014 Updated: July 24, 2014 at 6:58 am
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Raft remote waters

People from around the world come to Colorado for rafting trips. We as residents should seek less famous rapids, such as those on the Dolores River.

Few can say they’ve ventured the majestic stretch through sandstone cliffs and unspoiled desert, and that’s because the Dolores has a short running season. When we get closer to April, check with outfitters near Cortez and Durango, including Mild to Wild Rafting and Arkansas Valley Adventures.

When to go: Late spring/early summer

A bill to designate Browns Canyon in Chaffee County as a national monument passed its first legislative hurdle Wednesday.

The measure, which would protect a 22,000-acre stretch of the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida, was approved by the Senate National Parks Subcommittee. It will next be heard by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. No timetable has been set.

The canyon is a popular destination for rafting and fishing, and drives tourism and spending in the area west of Colorado Springs.

The bill was introduced in December by Sen. Mark Udall. It would allow all current uses, including rafting, fishing, hunting, hiking, livestock grazing, mountain biking and motorized vehicle use.

Many previous attempts at protecting Browns Canyon have failed, falling victim to conflicts over motorized use and whether permanent federal restrictions should be imposed.

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