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Changing The Designation Of Colorado National Monument Not In The Offing

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No effort to redesignate Colorado National Monument as a "national park" will be forthcoming in the short term/NPS

Colorado National Monument will, for the near term, remain a "national monument," and not a "national park."

While there had been much talk and meetings about changing the name of the monument located in western Colorado, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said recent public polling shows there's a need for continued talk about the redesignation. Sen. Udall, who chairs the Senate's National Parks Subcommittee, said that while this "rules out" legislation to accomplish a name change in the near future, he wants the discussions about that possibility to conintue because "it could help create jobs and protect the Colorado National Monument for future generations," a release from his office said.

Sen. Udall and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., had unveiled a community-driven proposal in April to redesignate the Colorado National Monument as a national park and launched a 90-day public-comment period. The two also hosted a town hall meeting on the draft bill in May. The comment period showed that the community was still deeply divided over the bill, developed by a community drafting committee, the senator's staff said.

Members of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees voiced concern over the proposal, specifically to a section that called for a local committee to advise the Interior secretary on management of the monument/park, and of a proposal to place a representative from the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association on the committee.  The Retirees also noted that the draft document being circulated "omits essential provisions that would assure preservation and enjoyment of the park'™s resources and values, while including other provisions that would undermine long-term management and protection and create more of a local park than a new unit of the National Park System."

Debate over how Colorado National Monument has been managed, and whether it should be redesignated as a national park, has been ongoing for several years in western Colorado. Criticism of Park Service management of the monument has festered in part over the agency's refusal, since 2010, to allow a professional bike race to be staged on the monument's 23-mile Rim Rock Drive.

It was about a year ago that the Western 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. But in those resolutions the groups sought 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.

None of this was mentioned by Sen. Udall in his release. Rather, he called for more consideration of a redesignation.

"From the days of John Otto and the Colorado National Monument's founding, Coloradans have debated whether it should become a national park. Although the results of the comment period show more consensus is needed before we can move forward with legislation, this is a discussion community leaders, business owners and residents should continue to have," Sen. Udall said in the release. "In the meantime, I will continue to fight in Congress to ensure the National Park Service works closely with the community and local residents to keep the monument a vital part of Mesa County and the Western Slope."


I'm late to comment on this because I just came across it but am doing so because it si still on the web.  As founder of Grand Valley Region Citizens for a national park I wanted to correct some errors in the above post.

First, with thousands of signatures from locals and local businesses alike it is a complete fallacy that our community is "deeply divided" over the question of national park service either in 2014 or 2016.  Community efforts to elevate Colorado National Monument to National Park status as was the initial intent of park founder John Otto encompassed a 3 year process during which Congressman Scott Tipton and Senator Mark Udall personally chose five respected local citizens (including one representing the Colorado National Monument Association).  The group came from different perspectives but came to together to create draft legislation that effectively and  elegantly addressed community concerns.  The final public comment on the draft legislation despite some implication to the contrary was overwhelmingly in favor of national park status.  I know because I knew people in both camps.  

  Though COGA and the GJ Chamber sent early resolutions of support that entailed community stakeholder veto power, that's all they were...letters of support.   For obvious reasons none of that kind of language ever made it into the official community written and driven draft legislation. The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees may not have read the draft legislation carefully enough and were not working with the facts when they opposed a section which they  purported to say allowed a group of community stakeholders to advise  the interior secretary on management of the park.  The proposed stakeholder group was just that a 17 member group which would be allowed to express both ideas and concerns from the local community.  Period. They would not and could not have had any impact on the Secretary of the Interior or any decisions regarding the park.   Numerous national parks and conservation areas have had similar successful groups (one of which the community draft was based on...Colorado Canyons Conservation Area).  These groups by federal law sunset after two years.  

A small group of opposition sprang up late in the process led by former Congressman Scott McInnis.  Many will recall that McInnis opposed the creation of Colorado Canyons Conservation area but at some point changed his mind and passed legislation to make it happen.  A short time later local residents were both surprised and angered to find that unbeknownst to the community A Congresswoman from Guam and a Congressman from oregon (neither of whom had ever even seen Colorado Canyons) waited for a day when Congress was not in session, suspended a law in place against  naming a geographic location after a living Congressman, then in the height of legislative egoism and who knows what else re-named Colorado Canyons to McInnis Canyons.  A name most locals to this day despise -- for this and for McInnis's role in a series of plagiarized water articles that brought enormous embarassment to the state.  This group attempted to spread massive misinformation  and created an unapproved and entirely unsanctioned "friends" of the Colorado National Monument website to further spread misinformation. 

The word was McInnis feared National Park status for the Colorado National Monument might someday lead to it's expansion and the erasure of his dubiously endowed name on the nearby canyons.    Scott Tipton, up for re-election, mysteriously ended the bid for national park status directly after public comment came out overwhelmingly in support of park status.  Why he claimed it was otherwise also remains a mystery but we hope Tipton or whoever someday supercedes him as Congressman will rectify a great wrong done to our community, to the magnificent Colorado National Monument and it's founder John Otto.  The historic effort to help one of America's first park units reach its deserved status as a national park is ongoing.  Colorado National Monument meets every stringent requisite for national park status and more.  it's important that people know the facts.  We hope National Parks Traveler follows this journey and gives support where it's warranted.  With some in Congress leading an insidious effort to privatize public lands and thwart efforts to create new national parks , it's up to those of us who truly love these iconic places to stand up and speak out for them and against all those who threaten their very existance.

Terri Chappell


Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park

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