U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., listened to dozens of comments from a crowd numbering in the hundreds in Grand Junction this week, most of whom appeared to support designating Colorado National Monument a National Park.
But Udall took a cautionary approach and said that more input was needed before moving forward.
The 20,000 acre red rock canyons and spires that rise to the west of the Grand Valley was designated a national monument in 1911. Those championing the effort 100 years ago, led by John Otto, had sought then to have the area named a national park but President William Howard Taft chose the lesser designation.
At one point during the meeting Udall told the crowd that he believed they were "channeling John Otto."
State Senator Steve King from Mesa County made the 508-mile round trip to attend the public listening session.
King said that while he welcomes the idea of a national park, he emphasized the need for a cautious and thoughtful approach.
"I understand the complexities and unique qualities of the location," said King. "The potential impact, both positive and negative, to the local communities in the Grand Valley through new federal regulations warrants a thorough discussion."
Supporters of the name change suggested that the area not being a national park is costing the area business and prestige, especially with the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park competing for visitor traffic.
Others indicated the go-slow approach made sense because the designation could overload the area with visitors and possibly have a negative effect on the area's quality of life.