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Organizations Want Veto Power Over National Park Service At Colorado National Monument


There's a story in western Colorado involving Colorado National Monument that bears watching. The gist of the story is that some local community organizations are in support of redesignating the monument as a national park, but only if they can veto Park Service decisions on what uses the monument is appropriate for.

Onlookers believe that this ties in to past efforts to have a professional bike race -- the 2013 USA Pro Challenge -- course through the national monument along the 23-mile-long Rim Rock Drive. In the past, officials all the way up to the director of the National Park Service have said that would be an inappropriate use of the national monument.

Now, earlier this spring the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association passed a resolution in support of renaming the monument a national park. That resolution was similar to one adopted earlier by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as one passed by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. The kicker is that the groups want the legislation to give community stakeholders veto power over any Park Service decisions on uses the agency finds are inappropriate for the monument...such as a professional bike race.

Whether legislation will be introduced into Congress this summer by either U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton or U.S. Sen. Mark Udall to redesignate the monument as a national park remains to be seen.

Park advocacy groups, though, are keeping an eye on this issue and are stressing that the Park Service's hands should not be tied when it comes to what is appropriate for Colorado National Monument.

At the National Parks Conservation Association, officials have said it is good for the Park Service to meet with local stakeholders to discuss the future of Colorado National Monument. But David Nimkin, senior director for NPCA's Southwest regional office, has made it clear that NPCA strongly opposes a professional bike race through the monument.

Simply put, he says, the commercialization of the national monument is out of bounds.

Also watching the issue is the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, which also opposes a professional bike race in the monument. While that group believes it is doubtful that Sen. Udall would offer legislation that would provide local stakeholders veto power over the Park Service, the Coalition nevertheless has notified him of its position on the matter. If the senator or any other congressional representative offers legislation to rename the monument as a national park for the significant natural resources and history of Colorado National Monument, the coalition will offer its official position on the matter at that time.


I have no real problem with the monuument staff and the community sitting together to talk about what kinds of activities are appropriate in the area. One thing for sure: the bike race is not appropriate. The 2006 management policies say a permit cannot be issued for an event unless there is a meaningful association between the area and the event and the event will contribute to the visitor's understanding of the area. The bike race fails both these standards. Moreover, Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regualations states that a request for a permit must be denied if it primarily benefits a for-profit organization and if it awards more than nominal prizes to the winners.

The tens of thousands of visitors that ec mentions are not there to see the monument; they are there to see professional bike races rip down hills at 60 miles an hour. There is nothing wrong with that. It just shouldn't happen in an area of the national park system.


It just shouldn't happen in an area of the national park system.

I understand it currently "can't" because of federal regs. I don't understand the shouldn't.

Though when I think about it, I don't see why being there to see the bike race wouldn't "contribute to the understanding" - whatever that means. People will be there for hours waiting for the bikers to come by. They will be hiking, bird watching, scanning the scenery, picnicking and all the other things regular visitors do. Heck, the bike spectators will probably be there longer not watching the races than the normal visitor stays.

ec - lots of assumptions there about what race watchers might be doing while waiting for the race to come by. I'm not an expert on the park, having only visited it a few times, but it seems likely given the terrain the only place along the park road to accommodate large numbers of people would be on the relatively flat (and frankly uninteresting) open desert terrain near the two park entrances. Not much to see and do there for picnics, hikes, etc. in the heat of a typical August day.

Once you get up into the scenic interior of the park along the steep and winding two-lane road, there just aren't a lot of places to stage big crowds for hours at a time, especially since they would need reasonable access to facilities like rest rooms. As to leaving the roadside for a hike or other activities while waiting for the race to pass, maybe you'd give up a prime viewing location for the race to go take a hike :-)

As to "giving 10s of thousands a new opportunity to enjoy the area far outweighs the incovenience a few might encounter," that also assumes two things: (1) "10's of thousands" could be accommodated for the day in the scenic interior of the park (very questionable). and (2) only a "few" visitors who wanted to visit the park for reasons other than the bike race would be incovenienced by being turned away due to the event. Makes me wonder if you've bothered to check on the park visitation in August, which is a lot more than a "few." A daily number in four figures is more like it.


Not assumptions, experience. I am quite familiar with the Pro Challange in Colorado. Last year it went over Independence Pass. The pass was closed but thousands walked, biked or drove before the closure to line the road. There is no mass viewing area, no staged viewing, there are people sitting one/two deep along the entire route. Their time in the "Pass" is measured in hours. Their watching the race is measured in minutes. I can assure you those "spectators" had a far better "understanding" of Independence Pass than any of the usual tourists that never leave their car.

Sounds like a good place for the event, and confirms that there are plenty of good choices that don't involve closing park roads. Those who enjoy the competetive race atmosphere can go to places like Independence Pass, and those who enjoy a lower key experience in a park can go to places like Colorado NM. No need to try to make every place fit every possible activity. The climate for serious racing in August would also be a lot more enjoyable at Independence Pass than in the Grand Junction area :-)

Those who enjoy the competetive race atmosphere can go to places like Independence Pass, and those who enjoy a lower key experience in a park can go to places like Colorado NM.

Why not vice versa? The fact is I blew away your original argument so now you have to make up a new one. Like other's here your opposition isn't based on facts its based on your personal veiw that the unwashed shouldn't use the parks.

Not sure which "original argument" you supposedly "blew away," but my point has been the same all along: all places are not the same in terms of resources and suitability for large, commercial events. As you suggest, a highway like the one over Independence Pass is a good choice for such events attracting a large crowd; a park road in a special and more confined area like Colorado NM isn't. "Why not vice versa?" is because the two sites aren't managed for the same public purposes.

As to changing positions, I notice you decided not to address the fact that closing the monument would impact more than just a few people. If that's the position you mention, I'll stand by my assertion that the monument can handle a couple of thousand people spread out over the entire park for a full day vs. the "tens of thousands" you predict would show up at one time to line the road for a race.


I have read a lot of your posts and have rarely seen you 'blow away" anyone's arguments.


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