By Peter Arlein

As the CEO and founder of a company deeply committed to sustaining the places where Coloradans work and play, I have the privilege of witnessing the transformative power of nature on both a personal and professional level. My company, mountainFLOW eco-wax, is devoted to making high-performance ski wax that protects our water from harmful chemicals.

After the ski season is over, the snow melts and flows into rivers like the Dolores, not far from my home in western Colorado. My experience floating the Dolores left an indelible mark on me. I had been closely monitoring the runoff during the spring of 2023, and when the water levels lined up with a school break, my family and I loaded up the raft and drove south. Even after floating a lot of the rivers in the western U.S., the Dolores had a specialness that I had not experienced before. It not only sustains our communities, farms, ranches and businesses, it is a place to restore our connection to something greater than ourselves. It is a living entity that deserves recognition and protection.

President Joe Biden’s administration has been groundbreaking in creating these safeguards throughout the country. Farther down the Colorado Basin, he has created new national monuments in places like Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada and Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Altogether, his administration has protected 1.5 million acres of land through such designations in just three years.

To truly leave his mark as a historic conservation champion, Biden should designate the Dolores River as a new national monument.

Protected public lands have consistently proven to be drivers of local economies, attracting visitors, supporting small businesses, and creating jobs.

The Dolores River and surrounding canyon country is a place that befits the legacy he is building as a new leader for the American West — one who appreciates the uniting, healing and sustaining power of our natural places.

Protected public lands have consistently proven to be drivers of local economies, attracting visitors, supporting small businesses, and creating jobs. Not only do they drive demand for products like the ones I sell, but they also provide sustenance to the families who make up outdoor recreation communities throughout the region.

Every year, however, we see the ski season subjected to wild, unpredictable swings due to a changing climate. This volatility threatens not just a way of life, it also cuts to the core of our identity as Coloradans. We must act to meet this crisis both to sustain the outdoor economy, but also to make sure we can still live in a place that is defined by a healthy connection to the natural world.

Biden has declared that he wants to cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030, something that simply isn’t possible without adding to the list of places he’s already protected throughout the country. Protected lands are carbon sinks that absorb harmful emissions and sustain high-quality sources of water that we all need to survive.

Fortunately, he has the opportunity to do something about it. Declaring a national monument to protect the Dolores River would cement his legacy as an innovative leader in conservation.

This article initially appeared in Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: [email protected]. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.