The Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance formed in 2013 to assist with projects benefiting the monument and the Anasazi Heritage Center near Dolores.
But Alliance executive director Diane McBride said the friends group reached an impasse with monument officials on forming a memorandum of understanding needed to fully partner with the BLM on projects.
“It’s heartbreaking and disappointing because we really put our hearts into it,” McBride said. “There is a small chance we could continue if we could negotiate an MOU with the monument.”
Monument manager Marietta Eaton also expressed disappointment about the reported disbanding. Regarding the “impasse” she would only say that friend’s groups must work within a myriad of federal regulations, which can be frustrating for volunteer organizations.
“It is unfortunate that it happened because friends groups allows us more leverage to accomplish work that protects the resources,” Eaton said.
The SWCCA organization has more than 100 members and volunteers, including 60 founding members.
In its four years, the advocacy group became a nonprofit, created a website and regular newsletter, and held volunteer and fundraising events to support the monument.
In 2013, the Alliance was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Conservation Lands Foundation. With the funding the Alliance started the Bucks for Buses program that paid transportation costs for local school tours to the Anasazi Heritage Center and monument. The fate of the program is unclear now.In 2015, the Alliance partnered with Southwest Memorial Foundation on the inaugural Ride the Ancients century ride, a charity bike event that circumnavigated Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.The group also funded regulatory signs for the monument, provided stipends for the monument artist-in-residence program, and conducted wilderness study area monitoring, plus more. In 2014, the Alliance paid transportation costs to have the long-lost Cannonball collection returned to the Anasazi Heritage Center.“We were good at fundraising, and focused our efforts on education and conservation,” McBride said.
In August, the group began a six month “hiatus to re-evaluate our relationship with the BLM, as our board felt we had reached an impasse,” according to a January letter sent to founding members.
The Alliance is polling members on what to do the $34,000 in their bank account. According to their bylaws, McBride said that upon dissolution, they are required to distribute the funds to a non-profit. Members were asked to choose their preference from a list of local conservation-based organizations.