Letter: Preserve the Colorado National Monument
I am a retired Utah Park Ranger, manager and a student of park management and design for over three decades. There are many reasons not to alter the current designation of Colorado National Monument.
Limitations of scale, carrying capacity of the land, preservation of the resource, quality of the visitor experience, encroachment by private land development, and further limitations to private road access are but a few of my concerns.
I have visited the Monument weekly, year round since 2001. With relatively small increases in visitor use during that time, I have observed: Days of full parking lots at all times of year, along with resource damage due to traffic overflow and congestion. Other resource damage has occurred from the creation of many social trails, vandalism and graffiti. Traffic has backed up at entrance stations, several dozen cars deep. This same traffic has often rerouted through nearby residential subdivisions. Conflicts regularly occur between bikes and vehicles, with dangerous traffic back-ups and vehicles passing on precipitous roads.
The CNM is a very limited and finite resource. With funding, you could make some needed facility improvements and increase manpower, but there is little you can do to mitigate the damage to the resource and the user experience by flooding the area with more vehicles and footprints. Expansion of parking areas will only exacerbate crowding. Significant road improvement, would destroy the very resource we are attempting to preserve. Increases in global population and the subsequent travelers that come with it are more than enough for managers to contend with.
You can help preserve John Otto’s legacy by not renaming the Monument. It has been a Monument for over 100 years.
While a very few may benefit financially from a name change for the CNM and the exposure it presents, others will lose — the Colorado National Monument as a natural resource (that we have sworn to preserve), the visitors, and the local population.
Finally, economic growth should not be a factor in deciding the designation of a National Park. The purpose of designating an area as a National Park or Monument is to protect the area and its natural inhabitants for generations to come and for all Americans to share in its ownership and stewardship.
This beautiful piece of canyon country is already protected and preserved with its Monument designation. Any change in name or status would be redundant.
Grand Junction, Colo.
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