Ken Salazar dedicates western Colorado wilderness area | SkyHiNews.com

Ken Salazar dedicates western Colorado wilderness area

GRAND JUNCTION (AP) – A 30-mile section of western Colorado’s Gunnison River and nearby canyons, cliffs and mesas have been dedicated as a national conservation and wilderness area.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was in Colorado on Wednesday for the formal dedication of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area south of Grand Junction.

The areas encompass a combined 210,000 acres, or 328 square miles. The wilderness area alone accounts for 66,000 acres, or 103 square miles.

Salazar says the designation capped a two-year grass-roots effort supported by officials in Delta, Mesa, and Montrose counties that started while he was a U.S. senator from Colorado.

“This one we were able to do in a couple years in large part because we had a large grass-roots effort,” Salazar said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

“Now we have 300 square miles of land that are going to be protected for generations to come,” he said.

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The area is one of seven Colorado provisions in wilderness legislation signed by President Barack Obama in March.

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter praised the area as a “magnificent addition to our country’s public lands system and a prime Colorado example of how to balance conservation and traditional uses.”

Obama will visit Grand Junction Saturday during a Western trip with his family.

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