Advocacy | Education | Stewardship

a conservation group with a boating habit


In December of 2008, a diverse stakeholder group formed to give the BLM feedback on the Dolores River Corridor Management Plan, which was in need of an update. After the Lower Dolores Plan Working Group provided that feedback, the members reached consensus that the group should also discuss Wild and Scenic suitability on the Dolores River, and see if an agreement could be reached on any potential alternatives. In March of 2010, the group reached a consensus to pursue National Conservation Area designation, and a subcommittee was created to develop a proposal. Three drafts of legislation have been released to the public for consideration and comment – most recently formally by Senator Bennet in the fall of 2021. We expect legislation to be introduced in the Senate in July of 2022. Through this proposal a National Conservation Area will be created, which will include important long-term protections for the Dolores River and surrounding landscape. Among other important resources, boating and native fish are values that would be named as “purposes” for the legislation. The legislation will also protect private property rights and access, and will not harm water rights. DRBA has become a leader in the process and strongly supports long-term protections for the Dolores River landscape.


DRBA is a member of the Friends Grassroots Network (FGN). As part of our work with FGN, DRBA coordinates the Network’s Colorado member groups to fight against direct threats and policy threats to Conservation Lands, and to send a strong message to legislators and policy makers that Coloradoans support and value our public lands and rivers. Through this work, we engage closely with other groups like ours around Colorado.

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DRBA consistently promotes fostering a healthy river ecosystem as a critical part of the boating experience. In most cases, boating and ecological goals go hand in hand. When conditions line up and water released from McPhee Reservoir creates boatable flows below the dam, DRBA works closely with water managers and other stakeholders, including the Native Fish Monitoring and Recommendation Team, to ensure the best management possible for both boating and ecological goals. There were over 60 boatable days in 2017, and some important ecological goals were met. The 2019 runoff led to 38 boatable days and targeted ecological goals were again reached. During releases, DRBA provides current boating information via social media and our website.


Youth today spend less time outside than ever before, which has numerous negative impacts on their health and well being. Our Youth River Program addresses the need for kids to experience nature, rivers, and the outdoors in a safe, enjoyable, and meaningful way. Through DRBA’s Youth River Program, youth and families from Montezuma and Dolores counties experience what the river has to offer through boating and hands-on educational opportunities during one-day river trips on the Dolores River. Youth receive Leave-No-Trace training, learn river safety skills, and experience whitewater rafting in a thrilling yet safe environment. River boating is expensive and requires a particular set of skills. These factors can create barriers to accessing the Dolores River. This program reduces barriers and increases access. By connecting youth and families to the Dolores River, a new generation of stewards is fostered. For the last four years, we have significantly expanded our youth programming through our partnership with the Montezuma Inspire Coalition. In 2022 we near tripled our impact by engaging 548 youth and 90 adults and family members in Montezuma County in programs including: river trips, paddle days, field trips, day programs, and summer camp. In 2022 we planned and implemented a wildly successful 5-day overnight summer camp for 14 youth. Camp participants were able to experience camping, rafting, fishing, and hiking while learning about the Dolores River and being supported to grow socially and emotionally with their peers. 2022 proved to be one of our most successful years yet! We look forward to continuing to provide fun, safe, and engaging opportunities for local youth and community members to learn about and connect with the Dolores River Watershed. All our youth programs are offered at little to no cost thanks to the support of our grant funders. If you are interested in scheduling a program, click the button below or email


DRBA has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management for several years. A great example of this is the campsite restoration work we have done on the Dolores River below the confluence with the San Miguel River. In this 33-mile stretch, campsites on public lands have been marked and boat landings have been cleared. We recently formalized our work with BLM through memorandums of understanding and look forward to increasing our collaborative work on the Dolores River and in the Dolores River watershed.


The Dolores River watershed is managed by multiple public lands management agencies, each with its own management plan. Dolores River Boating Advocates is actively involved with the land management policies along the river, from the headwaters high in the San Juan Mountains near Rico, through the redrock canyons, to the river’s confluence with the Colorado River near Moab. When projects are proposed adjacent to the Dolores River, we actively engage on behalf of the well being of the river.