After nearly dissolving in February, the Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance has found new life.
On Wednesday, the friends group for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management signed a memorandum of understanding needed to partner on public land projects.
Local and state BLM officials and the alliance board and director were all smiles as they gathered around a roundtable at the Dolores Public Lands Office to sign documents and discuss plans.
“We’re so pleased to revitalize and this agreement will help increase our membership because now we can offer volunteers more activities to participate in,” said Alliance director Diane McBride.
“We’ve got some juicy project ideas for you, and look forward to hearing your ideas as well,” said Connie Clementson, field manager for the Tres Rios BLM office in Dolores. “Friends groups are so important for the monument and Anasazi Heritage Center, and we need them as an extension of the BLM, to be out there in the community supporting public lands, and having that larger voice.”
The signing is a milestone for the Alliance, which first formed in 2013, but hit an impasse on an agreement with BLM and almost disbanded.
The group is still ironing out what projects they want to focus on, and the BLM has assigned BLM staffer David Saunders to work with them on negotiating the myriad of policies and regulations, including special recreation permits for education and research tours on the monument.
A trail-counter program to document trail use at popular sites such as Sand Canyon and Lowry Ruin is one project being considered. Expanding site stewardship programs on the monument where volunteers help monitor sensitive cultural sites is another goal.
“The monument has very important cultural resources, and we hope the SCCA will be a responsive partner for research, education and conservation projects,” said Dave Melanson, chairman of the Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance.
The Alliance will have an office in the Anasazi Heritage Center. Members are being contacted about the groups resurgence, and project planning and volunteer recruitment begin again in earnest, said McBride.