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Congressman Scott Tipton Says “NO” to Restrictive National Park Status

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United States Congressman Scott Tipton of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District released the following statement on July 7, 2014, giving his reasons for opposing the redesignation of the Colorado National Monument to a national park.

Friends of the Colorado National Monument has provided a platform from which the people of Western Colorado have been able to voice their opposition to the risks and restrictions of national park status for our beloved Colorado National Monument. Despite the “unabashed” advocacy by the region’s largest newspaper, and a 2 years-long campaign by proponents for national park status to force this bad idea onto the people of Western Colorado, our voices were heard and, at least for now, we can be grateful that the lands and lifestyle we hold dear will be preserved.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 7, 2014

Contact:

Josh Green

202-617-4395

 

Tipton Announces Opposition to Colorado National Monument Status Change

WASHINGTON— Citing a lack of community consensus and support, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) announced today that he will not draft or introduce any legislation that attempts to change the status of the Colorado National Monument to a national park, and will also actively oppose any attempts to do so in the House of Representatives. Tipton has stated throughout a two year community exploratory effort that local support and community consensus was required for any consideration of a change in the status or management of the Monument.

Tipton and Senator Mark Udall recently completed a 90 day period during which they solicited comments from the community on a proposal, crafted by a citizen working group, to change the Monument to a national park. The comments submitted to the offices clearly indicated that there was no consensus in the community on the issue, that the majority of Mesa County residents who submitted comments are opposed to national park status, and that there are significant concerns and uncertainty within the community over how regulation and Executive Branch rule-making could impact the local economy and existing industries should the status of the Monument change. Additionally, thousands of petition signatures on the Monument have been delivered to Tipton and Udall’s offices that also show a lack of local consensus or support for a change to the Monument’s status.

“While the Colorado National Monument is here for all of us to enjoy and explore, it is most intimate to the people of Mesa County and is integral to this community. From the beginning, I approached this process from the standpoint that should the community, with consensus from all sectors, want to change the Colorado National Monument to a national park, then I would, as their representative, listen to their input with the condition that it be done in a way that would have no adverse impact to existing industries or economic development,” said Tipton. “This process has made it clear that not only is there no community consensus on the issue, but that there are many concerns regarding potential adverse impacts the change could impose on the local economy with regard to increased regulation and federal government scrutiny.”

As part of the 90 day comment period, Tipton and Udall held a public listening session on May 17, during which the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel covered the lack of community consensus, reporting that, “Speakers on both sides of the issue, meanwhile, demonstrated that two years of discussion has done little to heal the fracture in the Grand Valley on the future of the monument.”

The Mesa County Board of Commissioners spoke to that division in a letter to Tipton and Udall on June 30, 2013 writing, “The Mesa County Board of Commissioners have been present at various meetings and events in which our constituents have been discussing the proposed conversion. It is clear to us that not only is there no consensus within our community but more polarization appears to be present with every dialogue we hear.”

During the May 17 public listening session and throughout the comment process many Mesa County citizens, both against and for park status, voiced concerns that the community could be negatively impacted should anything change with regard to current management and regulation of the Monument including air quality standards, buffer zones and travel on the Monument.

“The likelihood for legislation to pass both the House and Senate without impacting current air quality standards, buffer zones and travel on the monument is miniscule. Even if it did, it doesn’t pass the straight-face test to assume that it wouldn’t draw the attention of agency bureaucrats and generate a slew of litigation from outside groups pushing for more stringent restrictions that could drastically impact existing industries in Mesa County,” Tipton said. “Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the letter of the law would be followed by federal agencies. We’ve seen federal regulators circumvent Congressional intent in the law countless times in order to impose more restrictive rules and regulations—look no further than the EPA and Forest Service attempts currently underway to redefine their own regulatory scope in order to restrict access to private water rights. These types of agency actions create great uncertainty for impacted communities, restricting investment, job creation and prosperity. A change in the status of the Monument could at the very least create an increased level of uncertainty over future regulatory impacts to the Mesa County area, and possibly more stringent regulations in and around the Monument. When it comes to growing economic opportunity and creating jobs, it is done successfully through less regulatory uncertainty, not more.”

With a clear lack of community consensus or support for a change to park status, and abounding concerns and uncertainty that national park status could be detrimental to the region, Congressman Tipton opposes a change in status.

“In a region that has experienced firsthand the adverse impacts that federal agency decisions can have on the economy and access to public lands, the community’s concerns that a national park could attract additional scrutiny from federal regulators is well-founded. Just last month, without any notice or public consultation, the National Park Service announced that it would no longer allow the transport of vital fuels on Monument road to the residents of Glade Park. While the Park Service backpedaled on this overreach for the time being, it was a betrayal of the community’s trust and illustrative of the significant impact that agency decisions can have on the local community,” said Tipton. “From the beginning of this process I have said that any change in the status or management of the Monument must be community-driven and locally supported with broad community consensus. The lack of local support and consensus closes the issue and I will not draft nor introduce legislation to change the status of the Monument, and I will actively oppose any outside attempts to do so in the House of Representatives.”

Timeline:

May 19, 2011: At the request of local industry and economic development groups including CLUB 20, the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, West Slope COGA, and others Congressman Tipton and Senator Udall announce the formation of a community group to consider turning the Colorado National Monument into a national park.  The group was comprised of 16 community leaders, and ended up making no recommendation on whether or not to change the status of the Monument citing a lack of consensus in the community on the issue.

June 8, 2013: At the continued urging of local industry and economic development groups to continue the conversation on the Colorado National Monument and potential park status, Congressman Tipton and Senator Udall announce a citizen working group comprised of five members tasked with drafting recommendations to be incorporated should legislation be crafted to change the Monument to a national park.

April 1, 2014: Congressman Tipton and Senator Udall announce a 90 day public comment period on the recommendations made by the citizen working group regarding park status.

May 17, 2014: Congressman Tipton and Senator Udall hold a community listening session in Grand Junction on the working group proposal.

June 30, 2014: Completion of the 90 day public comment period.

Posted by Friends of the Colorado National Monument

Proponents in a Panic?

This blatant lie appeared in a recent edition of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel–note the time-traveling date!

You Said It, June 8, 2016

Mark Udall and Scott Tipton have essentially wiped the slate clean of comments on renaming Colorado National Monument. There’s a new comment period through June. Please e-mail or call in again. The most recent proposal is to name it Rim Rock Canyons National Park. Share your voice.

The comment period has ALWAYS been through June 30, and the comments have not been “wiped clean.” This makes one wonder whether or not the publisher of the local newspaper is behind the push for national park status! Hmmm…

And…

The National Park Service, lead by Madison, Wisconsin native Lisa Eckert, has suddenly reversed its plan to prohibit the residents of Glade Park from using the only safe route to their homes, Monument Road, for hauling fuel, fertilizer and other necessities.

Park hits brakes on propane haul ban

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LISA ECKERT: Colorado National Monument superintendent says she’ll hold meetings
 on the matter


A pending ban on the transportation of propane and other hazardous materials on the east end of Rim Rock Drive was lifted Monday, soon after the two federal legislators considering redesignation of Colorado National Monument as a national park questioned the measure.

Superintendent Lisa Eckert rescinded the ban, citing concerns over the process by which she announced the ban. A new round of meetings with residents is to be announced soon, Eckert said.

“I understand clearly that there are concerns by some about the process that led to our decision,” Eckert said in a statement.

Many Glade Park residents at a public meeting June 16 said they became aware only this month that Eckert had instituted a ban on hazardous materials effective July 1. Eckert soon after extended the effective date of the ban to Aug. 1.

Most, if not all, the residences and ranches on Glade Park are heated with propane that is delivered up the east end of the monument. Diesel and gasoline also are delivered via that route.

Trucks hauling fuel and other hazardous substances should use Little Park Road instead, Eckert said in the original announcement. Read more here

And…

The Mesa County Board of Commissioners provided a copy of a past letter written in 2011 stating that the protective provisions in draft legislation were absolutely essential for their support. Since those provisions are opposed by several national parks lobbying organizations, the National Park Service, and Senator Mark Udall himself, it is possible that the current Board of Mesa County Commissioners may completely withdraw any support for national park status. Stay tuned.

National Parks and Wilderness Preserves are Mandatory EPA Class I Areas

National parks and wilderness preserves are rarely, if ever, exempted from EPA Mandatory Class I Air Quality Standards.

The protective caveats in the draft proposal crafted by the local panel exist because two of its five members stood fast on the principle of keeping the Colorado Monument as it is. The proposal, in the words of Senator Udall, was “unprecedented.” But acceptance of the proposal by interests in the Grand Valley was contingent on those unprecedented conditions, which are:

  • No buffer zones
  • Governance by a local Advisory Board
  • Class II Airshed Standards

They are unprecedented because ALL OTHER COLORADO NATIONAL PARKS have been created with those conditions. Most national parks west of the Mississippi have Class I designation, with the exception of Death Valley NP which is remote and far removed from any human settlements. 57 of 60 NATIONAL PARKS have:

  • Buffer zones for present and future expansion and protection
  • Federal governance
  • Class I Airshed Standards

A great deal of backlash has resulted from those unprecedented conditions. If a national park bill is actually introduced, those conditions will be stripped because of intense lobbying by NGOs such as the National Parks Conservation Association, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Conservation Colorado and others.

The existence of a national park in Western Colorado means that Colorado energy interests and other developers will have to wage an ongoing war with the National Park Service, BLM, EPA and other agencies.  Self-appointed environmental watchdog groups, which focus like a laser on national parks, will set up in local storefronts and prepare to file injunctions and lawsuits at the drop of a hat. Local economies will be impacted and existing operations will be threatened. The answer to this future nightmare?

Just say NO to a new national park.

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False “Prestige” or the Preservation of our Rights?

Crowds amass near Zion National Parks shuttles. Zion NP is a "shuttles-only" park in Utah with roads and geology similar to CNM, but Zion is much larger in size. Nevertheless, it has been closed to private cars and bikes.

Crowds amass near Zion National Parks shuttles. Zion NP is a “shuttles-only” park in Utah with roads and geology similar to CNM, but Zion is much larger in size. Nevertheless, it has been closed to private cars and bikes.

Dear Friends of the Colorado National Monument,

It’s unfortunate that our lands and lifestyles in Western Colorado have become political ping pong balls for some who push false “prestige” and overblown economic benefits as a justification for ceding a local treasure over to federal government control and the crushing regulation of the EPA and other overreaching agencies. It IS unfortunate, but that is the arena in which we find ourselves as we try to defend what we now enjoy with reasonable ease, and that which we care for and respect; the beautiful Colorado National Monument.

Since FCNM organized just weeks ago and our website and Facebook page were launched, the proponents of national park status (loss of local control, increased regulation, harm to our ecology and economy, etc.) have rallied their forces pressuring our legislators to push through a national park with or without a consensus of the people who live within the shadow of the CNM.

Please contact Congressman Scott Tipton (R) Colorado, who represents the district in Western Colorado where the CNM is found. Please call his office (970) 241-2499 or leave a comment here http://tipton.house.gov/colorado-national-monument-comments

Do not wait! Politics can be messy, unfair, and deaf to the concerns of those who actually live with the consequences of political dealings. Tell Representative Scott Tipton today that WE DO NOT NEED TO FIX WHAT AIN’T BROKEN, thus jeopardizing our rights for a false sense of “prestige” and a real loss of local control. ACT NOW!

Sincerely,

Friends of the Colorado National Monument

 

 

SCOTT TIPTON CONTACT: http://tipton.house.gov/colorado-national-monument-comments

225 North 5th St., Suite 702

Grand Junction, CO 81501

Phone: (970) 241-2499

Fax: (970) 241-3053

National Park Retirees Seek to Change Protective Language in Draft Legislation

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An email addressed to the sponsors of draft legislation that could potentially create a national park out of the existing Colorado National Monument deals a blow to proponents’ assurances that Mesa County and its residents would be protected from the same regulations and prohibitions governing other national parks. The email, dated April 25, 2014, from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) to Congressman Scott Tipton (R) Colorado, and Senator Mark Udall (D) Colorado, detailed their disagreements with the draft legislation in its current form. The CNPSR is one of many powerful organizations which lobby Congress and federal agencies on issues related to national parks.

The language in the current draft bill with which CNPSR disagrees are those provisions which were inserted into the bill to ensure that a new national park (in theory) would be compatible with the geographic, economic, and human features of its surroundings. Proponents have attempted to sell the idea of a new national park by assuring those living and working near the CNM that it would remain a Class II Area with no change in current EPA regulation of things such as “haze,” “viewsheds,” and air and water quality. They have also promised that buffer zones requiring the seizure of public or private lands adjacent to the Monument would be expunged from the bill.

Local control by individuals and interests in Western Colorado currently interacting with the CNM has also been considered an inviolable condition for national park status. But in its email the CNPSR actually mocks the creation of  a local advisory committee composed of people from Western Slope associations and businesses saying,

“The composition of this advisory committee, moreover, does not pass the “red face test.” It overwhelmingly represents local interests, some of which are not even park-related.”

Class I Area status, buffer zones, and loss of local control of our lands and lifestyles are exactly what make national park status unfeasible. Provisions protecting Mesa County and its residents from such things are exactly what the CNPSR finds unacceptable in the draft legislation. According to a Grand Junction Daily Sentinel article of May 7, 2014:

The coalition cited several objections to proposed provisions prohibiting a buffer zone for the park; assurances of existing air-quality rules and a proposed advisory committee in a letter to federal legislators.

“What is especially troubling about this draft legislation is that it contains no language concerning the essential reason for establishing a national park, i.e., preservation of its outstanding resources and values for the enjoyment of present and future generations, but rather contains many provisions that make achievement of that goal more difficult,” the letter said. “In fact, this bill raises such significant concerns that we have to wonder whether it was drafted in order to stop progress toward redesignating Colorado National Monument as a ‘national park.’”

It’s very unlikely that there are any plans by proponents to “stop progress” toward national park status. With that in mind, the revelations in this email expose the truth that many have suspected all along; that the draft legislation, with its current caveats and promises, will be altered, the provisions protecting the people and economy of Mesa County removed, and instead of gaining a nice addition to our list of local attractions, we will get a burdensome, job-destroying, D.C. bureaucrat-controlled, nightmare.

One cannot minimize the negative impact national park status would have on our local lands, lifestyles, economy, and long-term viability should it be achieved. No national park or Class I Area has ever been reversed. If proponents achieve their goal and win national park status, it will bring about devastating and irreversible changes to the very things that make Western Colorado a wonderful place to live.

The following are pages of the email from the Coalition of Park Service Retirees to Representative Tipton and Senator Udall: