Archives for : National Park status

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

2Colorado_National_Monument_(4939640266)

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

Retired Park Ranger Weighs in AGAINST a National Park

Retired park ranger, William Solawetz of Grand Junction, reaffirms the case that Friends of the Colorado National Monument has made against national park status for the Colorado National Monument.

His compelling letter to the editor was printed in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on July 4, 2014.

Delicate Arch Tourist Crowds

Tourists crowd the viewing area on the way to Delicate Arch in nearby Arches National Park.

Retired ranger concerned over monument redesignation

I am a retired Utah park ranger, manager and student of park management and design for over three decades. There are many reasons not to alter the current designation of Colorado National Monument, and I will mention a few.

I have visited the monument weekly, year-round since 2001. With relatively small increases in visitor use during that time, I have observed full parking lots at all times of year, as well as resource damage due to traffic overflow and congestion. Other damage has occurred from the creation of many social trails, vandalism and graffiti.

The monument is a very limited and finite resource. If money were invested, facilities could be improved and manpower increased, but there is little that can be done 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 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 people may benefit financially from a name change and the exposure it presents, the local population, visitors and the monument itself, as a natural resource that we have sworn to preserve, will be on the losing side.

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.

WILLIAM SOLAWETZ Grand Junction

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

Lisa_Eckert

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.

If You Like Your Monument, Can You Keep Your Monument?

 

 

“Only a change of Name” is the title of the song and dance routine proponents of national park status have used to try to sell their risky deal. The attempt to impose a new national park upon–and possibly beyond– where the Colorado National Monument now exists, recalls the “Lie of the Year” when the President promised, “If you like your healthcare, you can keep your healthcare.” Though the creation of a new national park is initially a congressional function, the distrust of government from the top down, is causing many to pause and wonder, despite the appeasing intonations of proponents, “If we like our Monument, can we keep our Monument?”

It’s a fair question, not just because distrust of Washington politicians and bureaucrats is at a fever pitch, but because the line that “it’s just a name change” sounds too simple–too good to be true. And it is. Besides the mere change of name to “Rim Rock Canyons National Park” and the signage, marketing materials, and other perfunctory matters that come with the change of a title, the rules of the game change as well. National Monument vs National Park is not a matter of prestige or reverence, it is a matter of greater powers given to the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Environmental Protection Agency over the very air we breathe in Western Colorado, and the human activities that might affect what is in that air.

Despite cries of “prestige” and “tourist dollars” those of us who seek to preserve the Colorado National Monument realize that the change in status from Monument to Park is a change from protection to restriction. In the words of Senator Mark Udall, the proposed draft version of the bill that would create Rim Rock Canyons National Park is “unprecedented.” Why? Because the conditions upon which it has received support from local interests and organizations have never accompanied the creation of a national park in modern times. It’s unprecedented because national parks NEVER have the measure of local input that is in the draft legislation crafted by appointees under the direction of Mark Udall and Scott Tipton. It’s unprecedented because it simply doesn’t happen. “Just a name change” never happens. With national park status come new rules, new restrictions, and new powers to the National Park Service, BLM, EPA and other federal agencies.

Promises that protective caveats in the draft legislation will remain unchanged are laughable. There are no other national parks in western states that have Class II Air Quality standards. There are no other national parks in western states governed by a local advisory board. There are no other national parks is western states that don’t have, or plan to create, buffer zones.

Our local treasure is at risk if legislation is introduced. Now is the time to stop this bad idea in its tracks. Protective conditions in the draft legislation are unprecedented–which is a fancy way of saying “it just doesn’t happen.” Along with the name change will come federal control, Class I Air Quality Standards, and buffer zones where they can be created. It will be an ongoing fight for our lands and lifestyles in Western Colorado. The answer to the question, “if we like our Monument, can we keep our monument?” is a resounding “NO!”

 

Endangered in America: Private Property

The following article by Michael S. Coffmann, PhD., was published in the Fall 2005 edition of Range Magazine. Using maps and policy research, he has built a chilling scenario that should get the attention of all Americans who value personal liberty and private property.

The full 6 page article complete with maps and further data can be read in the Fall 2005 edition of Range Magazine. Please read more here.

Reposted with the permission of Range Magazine.

Broken Promises: Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The following letter was presented to FCNM by Curtis Robinson, a retired accountant with a long history in Colorado as an estate expert and stockholder, officer, director, and office manager for Dalby, Wendland & CO. PC. .

black-canyon-otg-np-00

May 14, 2014

Friends of the Colorado National Monument

RE:  PROPOSED CHANGE IN COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT TO A NATIONAL PARK

I would prefer to make this presentation in person but was unable to do so.

My recommendation to all of you is to do some research in regards to both the Black Canyon National Park and the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  The Black Canyon became a National Park on October 21, 1999 and the Sand Dunes became a National Park on September 19, 2004.

In both of these transfers, the promoters used the opportunity to lock up substantial additional quasi wilderness areas.

When the Black Canyon became a National Park, over 50,000 acres became the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area with over 14,000 of these acres classified as wilderness.  In 2003, this area was expanded with 14,000 more acres added with the total now being 62,844 acres.  In this case, no private land was acquired, it was all BLM land that was reclassified.

When the Great Sand Dunes became a National Park, the US Government purchased the Baca Ranch and added 97,000 acres as the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. This was private land that became government owned when the Sand Dunes became a Park.

The entire area is now off limits to any use by ATV’s and basically has become an area that only government employees are allowed to enter.

I suggest you contact the Saguache County BOCC and ask them how this impacted the tax revenues when the 97,000 acres come off the property tax rolls.

So my question to you is what lands are they going to add to the existing Monument when this becomes a National Park?  How will this impact the residents of Mesa County?

In all cases, environmental groups install air quality monitors to use to restrict activities near the Park.

They will try to stop all mining, drilling, logging and coal burning plants in the area if they can.

Before the Black Canyon became a National Park, Montrose was told this would increase tourism and bring millions of dollars to the area.  Everyone believed that but it did not happen.

No one challenged the numbers they presented.  You should attempt to make them provide data to support their claims of all the additional people that are going to come to Grand Junction.

The Park Service furnishes the number of visitors to all National Parks and Monuments.  The only problem with this is there is no way to verify if we are being told the truth.

The Park Service claims 192,570 people visited the Black Canyon National Park in 2012.  They have not posted 2013 numbers yet.  The Black Canyon gets very few visitors 5 months each year; therefore, the 192,570 would compute to 775 people per day or approximately 260 cars per day for the other 7 months.

The number of rooms rented in Montrose do not reflect anywhere near this kind of numbers.

The reported visitors to Mesa Verde for 2012 was 488,860.  That is 2 ½ more than the Black Canyon.

Many of the visitors to the Black Canyon are the local residents that are not spending one dime more in Montrose than they would otherwise.  These visitors are counted as being part of those adding to the local economy and I am sure that same thing is happening in Grand Junction.

There is a web page that compares all of the National Parks.  I suggest you use this for info to support what you present.  The page is –US-NATIONAL-PARKS.activities.findthebest.com

It is my belief Grand Junction will not see any change in the number of visitors to the area if it does become a National Park.

With the smog problem you have had the past couple of winters, it is also my belief that the Community will regret the day if it does become a National Park.

Sincerely,

Curtis Robison

                                                                                                                                

Why Turn Sustainable Monument Into an Over-Burdened Park?

With these things in mind, it makes no sense to expose a sustainable national monument to the negative implications of being added to the long list of overburdened, over-traveled, poorly-managed, and increasingly degraded national parks.

Entrance to Kapalua National Conservation Area

Entrance to Kapalua National Conservation Area

Denali National Park

Denali National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Colorado National Monument Advisory Committee convened in 2011-2012 to study the implications of a change of status to that of a national park. In their meeting minutes they noted several concerns, including:

  • “…are there enough parking lots, restrooms?”
  • “Is it possible that the Monument could be restricted to motor coach traffic only?”
  • “Would that eliminate use of the Monument by local individual vehicles and bicyclists?”
  • “…the current road system is beyond maxed-out…”
  • “…an increasing demand for law enforcement on the property…”
  • “…more traffic violations…”
  • “…suicide attempts also require law enforcement attention…”

And much more…The CNM Advisory Committee declined endorsing national park status for the above reasons as well a lack of community consensus on the issue. One thing is apparent. The Colorado National Monument, in its present state, is relatively well-managed and in good repair. A large percentage of its visitors are locals who have an interest in taking good care of the facilities within the CNM, protecting its natural features, and sustaining the delicate balance between human activity and the environment; those things which define its unique geographical location in a well-developed area.

In other words, the existing Colorado National Monument is a sustainable area. Though it could easily become degraded by an increase in foot and motor traffic, it is in good shape. Though NPS managers could easily become hostile to its human neighbors; the commercial and private interests of the Grand Valley, it is still mostly friendly. Though its environment could easily become irreversibly damaged, there are few areas currently that suffer from overuse and human mistreatment. National park status could tilt that delicate balance, harming the Monument and all it has to offer.

With these things in mind, it makes no sense to expose a sustainable national monument to the negative implications of being added to the long list of overburdened, over-traveled, poorly-managed, and increasingly degraded national parks.

A U.S. Senate report from October 2013 details the misuse, disrepair, mismanagement, and general degradation now facing the nationals national parks. Problems cited in the report include:

  • Deferred maintenance backlogs in the billions of dollars
  • Dilapidated infrastructure
  • 70 existing national parks that attract fewer than 100 daily visitors
  • reduced hours of operation
  • long wait times for entrance into national parks
  • expansion of NPS responsibilities without an increase in funding
  • wasteful staffing practices
  • delayed emergency responses in some parks
  • lack of transparency in NPS spending and budgeting process
  • Congress does not always follow the recommendations of National Park Service studies when authorizing new parks
  • Parks created for political reasons [Pork]
  • net loss in dollars per visitor–for example: It costs American taxpayers $221.30 for each visitor to the “Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site” (pg 148) Coburn Report

The list of dysfunctional aspects in the National Parks System is exhaustive. Please read the full report here:  There is also an environmental price to be paid with increased visitation. Read more here:  Proponents of national park status paint a benign picture saying, “it’s only a change of name,” or “the prestige of a national park is worth the effort.” The real implications, however, are not so benign. The existing CNM is a blessing to the people of Western Colorado, with few grievances or instances of poor management. The logical conclusion is to keep it as it is. Why fix it until it gets broken?

National Park Retirees Seek to Change Protective Language in Draft Legislation

3EPA

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:

National Parks: Higher Visibility and Vandalism

As National Parks become more visible, the temptation by social media “celebrity vandals”  to destroy their features becomes greater.

In recent years numerous national parks have suffered a surge in vandalism, thanks to increased visibility and social media. In nearby Arches National Park, according to an April 11, 2014 article in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Sand Dunes Ranch section had to be closed from public access because of heavy vandalism to its sandstone boulders and cliffs. Rangers described the 20 by 30 ft section of sandstone wall as “deeply etched with graffiti” and said that the degree of destruction was surprising since this section of the park is “tucked away,” off the beaten path. This recent case in Arches, just across the Utah border from Mesa County, appears to be part of a growing trend in which vandals take pictures of their their destructive activities and post them to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

image

Salt Lake Tribune photo

Joshua Tree National Park, popular among residents of Southern California, Western Arizona, and Southern Nevada, is beginning to look like an extension of some graffiti-covered urban centers. In 2013 hundreds of acres and miles of trails traversing Joshua Tree’s giant bounders and unusual vegetation had to be closed due to an outbreak of graffiti vandalism. Boulders and some trees were damaged, mostly by spray paint, some scrawled with indecipherable messages and gang tags. Again, accounts point to vandals taking pride in causing damage to a highly prized national parks, and subsequently posting “trophy” images or videos on social media.

 

Graffiti on boulders at Joshua Tree National Park.

CNN photo

In September of 2013 the National Parks Service reported on an alarming trend in park vandalism that has resulted in at least 9,000 instances of vandalism within national parks since 2009. In some areas this trend appears to be fueled by “competition” between self-titled graffiti artists, but the “viral” nature of social media postings of defaced national park features is enticing many to become “celebrity” vandals.

Social media, however, is not the only driver behind vandalism at national parks. Just weeks ago in March, a 190-million-year-old fossilized dinosaur track was chipped from its sandstone matrix in Canyonlands National Park, and stolen. The vandalism was very likely the result of treasure seeking.

National Park status comes at a cost. Though visitation to national parks and other National Park Service-managed areas is not increasing overall, visibility through social media is. There are some who aren’t content with photographs of beautiful vistas, and friends and family posing before majestic landscapes and monuments. Social media is driving an increasing appetite for fame, and the vandalism of famous national park sites brings attention where photographic travelogues get a “ho-hum.”

Are the costs of higher visibility worth in to those of us who live near the Colorado National Monument? Proponents tout higher visitor numbers and more cash in the local economy, and those points are disputable, but it’s indisputable that the more visible and renowned the national park, the more likely it is to be hit with vandalism by someone seeking 15 minutes of Instagram fame.

The Colorado National Monument is a treasure to those who live within its shadow. It’s relatively well-managed in its current status, and locals provide eyes, ears, and helping hands where the NPS cannot always be. With a change in status this small national monument, with its fragile desert soil, sandstone cliffs, and abundant wildlife, could be exposed to increased visibility, traffic, congestion, as well as unintentional and INTENTIONAL human destruction. National park status is not work the risk. Let’s protect our national monument  from “celebrity vandals.”

 

National Park Status Could Put McInnis Canyons into Question

A story in the Salt Lake Tribune from April 2, 2014 titled, Westerners fear Obama preparing monuments land grabbrings into question claims by proponents that national park status will in no way effect boundaries or change existing jurisdiction over lands in or around the Colorado National Monument. According to the SL Tribune article, environmentalists are teaming with the Navajo Nation to turn a remote area abutting Canyonlands National Park into a protected area to be named “Diné Bikéyah National Conservation Area.” If Congress fails to create a conservation area their “Plan B” is to ask President Obama and his Department of the Interior to assert the executive power of the 1906 Antiquities Act and unilaterally designate it a national monument. The Antiquities Act has been used hundreds of times, with the stroke of the executive pen, to create national monuments and protected areas without public comment or approbation. Bill Clinton wielded the Antiquities Act in 1996 to create a new national monument in Utah, shutting off millions of acres of energy-rich land to development and devastating Utah’s coal industry. The Tribune article reads:

Two months before his 1996 re-election, President Bill Clinton stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona and declared 1.8 million acres of public land in Utah as the new Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. With a swipe of a pen, he canceled a proposed coal mine in what Hatch described then as the “mother of all land grabs.”

McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, created in 2005,  is a multi-use recreational area directly to the north and west of the existing CNM. Hunting, fishing, camping, horseback, hiking, and various other uses including some motorized vehicle access, are currently allowed in McInnis Canyons. That could all change, however, if the CNM were to be designated a national park. It’s even more likely to occur today than in the past with federal management agencies asserting unprecedented control over public lands. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is working with the National Park Service (NPS) to implement “Landscape-level conservation,” which regards national parks as simply “hubs within larger, landscape-level conservation efforts.” In their June 2011 report, “The State of Our National Parks,” they detail their goals, including:

New national park units should be established and some existing parks should be expanded to increase the diversity of the country’s natural and cultural heritage represented within the park system.(pg 5)

Proponents have repeated the mantra that there will be “no buffer zones,” with national park designation. But that contradicts the goals of the NPCA and NPS, and defies their very definition of a national park. With the stroke of a pen the President could use the Antiquities Act to create McInnis Canyons National Monument, completely changing the nature of human access to the area as well as its  jurisdiction. As the federal footprint increases in Western Colorado, the access to our energy rich public lands decreases, and good-paying jobs disappear. This is a very real scenario, and a process similar to that which could turn McInnis Canyons into a “national monument” buffer zone for the “Rim Rock Canyons National Park” is underway right now in Southern Utah. Caveats within the draft legislation designating CNM a national park are insufficient. Preserving our lands and lifestyles in Western Colorado means that even an additional inch of leverage cannot be given to Washington D.C., because they will inevitably take a mile, or a couple million acres.