A national park status for Colo. Nat’l Monument closer | PostIndependent.com

A national park status for Colo. Nat’l Monument closer

Sharon Sullivan
Courtesy Photo
Staff Photo |

Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Scott Tipton met with locals at Colorado National Monument Saturday, June 8, where the leaders announced the formation of a local executive committee that would help address community concerns regarding the re-designation of the monument as a national park.

The five-member committee will work with Udall, who is chairman of the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee, and Tipton, who serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, to produce discussion-draft legislation to change the park status. A public comment period will be held following completion of the draft.

Executive committee members include Kristi Pollard, former director of development at Colorado Mesa University; Warren Gore, a Glade Park rancher and chairman of Udall and Tipton’s recent Colorado National Monument working group; Ginny McBride, chairwoman of the Colorado National Monument Association board of directors; Michael Burke, chairman of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce; and Jamie Lummis, a member of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge organizing committee.

The group plans to meet for the first time Saturday along with Udall and Tipton, plus their staff members.

The committee will meet periodically over the next several months.

“I look forward to working with these community leaders to draft legislation that addresses local concerns while also finding a bipartisan, common-sense way forward to honor (park founder) John Otto’s original vision for the Colorado National Monument,” Udall stated in a news release.

Tipton, in the same news release, said the formation of the committee is “the next step towards achieving the best possible outcome for the monument and people of Mesa County.”

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees was pleased to learn of Udall’s and Tipton’s joint initiative to begin drafting legislation to designate Colorado National Monument as a national park.

“We believe a national park designation will more appropriately recognize the superlative landscape, the extraordinary geology and paleontology; the history of indigenous peoples, the diversity of wildlife and the uniquely American public works projects of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Works Project Administration (WPA), and Local Experienced Men (LEM) which included constructing breathtaking Rim Rock Drive, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” coalition member and former CNM superintendent Joan Anzelmo wrote in an e-mail to the Free Press.

The plan to enlist locals to help draft legislation follows years of meetings and opposing viewpoints on whether to change the 102-year-old monument to a national park.

The Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park, a grassroots group comprised of citizens, businesses and organizations whose members believe the monument should become the nation’s 60th national park, contend that the re-designation would attract both domestic and international tour groups and bring in millions of dollars to the community.

Proponents also say a status change would clear up confusion caused by the word “monument.” Apparently, the term conjures up images of a plaque or statue of some sort as opposed to the collections of canyons and monoliths that make up the 20,534-acre national monument.

Opponents of a re-designation say they fear stricter air quality and air shed standards — a claim disputed by the Citizens for a National Park group.

National parks operate under the same rules as national monuments, thus, air quality and air shed standards would not be affected by a designation change.

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