Archives for : Problems with change

A Cautionary Tale About Inflated Numbers

Despite the fact that Congressman Scott Tipton has permanently abandoned any attempt to introduce legislation creating a restrictive national park where the Colorado National Monument now stands, you can bet that if Mark Udall wins in 2014 this issue will again rear its ugly and divisive head. The GJ Sentinel ran a recent editorial citing Pinnacles National Park as a remarkable example of economic benefit to nearby communities. But, as the editors of the Sentinel are wont to do, they omitted some critical facts relevant to their case. Here, author, historian and outdoors man Charles Quimby, clarifies and corrects that narrative.

pinnacles

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If you haven’t yet made up your mind about the Colorado National Monument/National Park question, let me offer one piece of advice. Never rely on numbers provided by local boosters—even if they are reported in your local newspaper.

The latest example appeared in a recent glowing report on the new Pinnacles National Park, suggesting similar economic results might be bestowed on us.

Pinnacles became a national park in January 2013, and according to local boosters in nearby Soledad, California, visitation is up 30% from its monument days. Local sales tax revenues are up 20%—even better than the 11% figure the same source gave a California reporter at the end of June!

At first I thought, maybe it’s true. A first year jump in attendance wouldn’t be unheard of, and it’s not hard to show a big percentage increase in a small economy. (Soledad, after all, has only one motel and a population of about 26,000, 40% of whom are incarcerated.)

But just to make sure, I checked the annual and monthly visitation data reported by the National Park Service for every park and monument in the country. 

It’s true attendance went up at Pinnacles in 2013 over 2012, although only by 6%. But 2013 was lower than in 2011 or 2010. One would have to go further back in history to come up with a 30% increase. 

Okay, maybe they meant so far in 2014. Nope. According to NPS numbers, each month has been well below the same month last year. At this rate, it’s likely 2014 will fall back to 2012 levels, a pattern seen in other monument-to-park conversions.

Making local economic boosters stick to the facts is beyond my powers, but I still hold out hope for better fact-checking of anecdotes and balanced reporting in my local paper.

Charles Quimby  July 9, 2014

Endnote courtesy of Kent Carson: 

Coincidentally, the city of Soledad raised its sales tax rate by 20% at the end of 2012.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”~ Mark Twain

 

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

Does National Park Status Endanger Water Rights on Glade Park?

National Park Service Photo Great Sand Dunes

National Park Service Photo
Great Sand Dunes

One of Colorado’s newer protected areas-turned-national park, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, was created with water rights as a foremost justification for the change from national monument to national park. Originally designated as a national monument in 1932, with the help of then United States Congressman Scott McInnis, Great Sand Dunes was re-named a national park in 2004. Located in a remote region 35 miles northeast of Alamosa, Great Sand Dunes sits atop an aquifer long coveted by the Front Range and targeted by proposals to export waters to thirsty communities to the east. In December of 2004, following its redesignation to a park in September of the same year, the National Park Service, represented by the U.S. Department of Justice, filed an application for all rights to the water within the aquifer and seasonal runoff that feeds into it.  As a result:

*Following a short trial, during which the court heard testimony from experts in hydrogeology, herpetology, and wetlands ecology, the judge signed the decree entitling the National Park Service to an absolute water right to appropriate in-place all unappropriated groundwater in the unconfined aquifer beneath the park.

*From Park Science Magazine

The water rights story of Great Sand Dunes National Park remains uncontroversial, despite the fact that little has changed, including visitation and tourist dollars, since its redesignation in 2004. There are however, a number of observations in its history that should lend caution to proponents of national park status who claim that “water rights will not be at issue” regarding the Colorado National Monument.  Those observations include:

  • Great Sand Dunes is 35 miles from the nearest town and has no agricultural operations within its immediate vicinity.
  • The National Park Service applied for water rights AFTER it became a national park. This fact invalidates proponents’ arguments that legislation redesignating CNM as a national park fixes all the protective provisions upon which its acceptance is predicated.
  • The National Park Service was given “an absolute water right” within the new park.

Colorado National Monument has no permanent bodies of water within its boundaries, but it is crossed by season washes and streams that travel downhill toward the Grand Valley. But–and it is a significant but–the CNM is immediately adjacent to the highly-developed towns of Grand Junction and Fruita, as well as the agricultural town of Glade Park rising above its canyons to the southwest. Glade Park and the plateau where it is located has several large bodies of water, such as the 3 Thompson Reservoirs, and numerous reservoirs near Pinion Mesa. Given that the NPS applied for water rights in Great Sand Dunes AFTER its redesignation it is not outside the realm of possibility that at some point, given the right circumstances, they could also attempt to exert power over the reservoirs and creeks immediately outside the new national park.

The Secretary of the Interior and Department of the Interior–which oversees the National Park Service–for the past several years has attempted to lay claim over several western waterways OUTSIDE of national parks, designating them as National Blueways.  The House Resources Committee penned a letter to Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewel, demanding clarity about the “National Blueways” initiative since it appeared that water rights to the entire 18 million acre White River Watershed had been assumed by the DOI, which unilaterally designated it a National Blueway.

Unlike any other national park in the West, the CNM is literally surrounded by human development. Glade Park is an agricultural town with farms, cattle ranches, livestock, and horse operations. Its water resources serve the residents of Glade Park and Fruita, and provide recreational opportunities during the warm months of the year. History tells us that the National Park Service can, and has, applied for water rights after the creation of a national park. Current events tell us that the Department of the Interior is laying claim to American waterways outside national parks, without the consent of the people of the states. The promise that “water rights won’t be an issue” with national park status, is just as empty as the potholes on top of the Colorado National Monument during the heat of summer.

 

 

 

Will National Park Status Limit Access for School Groups? Climbers?

lizardmonument

Although nearby Colorado national monuments-turned-national parks have struggled to attract visitors, other national parks such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite are mulling the imposition of quotas for peak visitation times. Despite the fact that access to campsites, lodging, guided tours and other national park features require special arrangements, sometimes years in advance, simply entering a park does not. But as seasonal overcrowding, overuse, and destruction at national parks becomes increasingly problematic, it is possible that reservations will be required for simply visiting for an hour or two.

Bob Janiskee wrote an article for National Parks Traveler in February 2008 detailing one scenario which might result as the National Park Services grapples with emerging usage issues. It says:

In the worst case scenario, the Park Service might have to adopt truly draconian measures. Some observers believe that it is only a matter of time before we see strict entrance and recreational facility quotas employed. A few have suggested that access to national parks and their recreational facilities might best be regulated by a national lottery, and that a “white market” for park permits should be allowed to flourish.

Here is how it would work. The Park Service would use the best available scientific methods to determine the recreational carrying capacity, acceptable limits of change, and other limiting factors in parks that experience serious overcrowding and related facilities overuse during peak seasons. The key question is how much access and use can be permitted without seriously reducing recreational quality or causing unacceptable damage to physical and cultural resources in the parks.

The agency would then set peak-period quotas for admission and recreational facilities use at the “problem parks.” Each quota would express the maximum number of permits to be issued for visiting a particular park and engaging in specified recreational activities during a specified period of time. The quotas would be partially filled through allocations to tour operators, park concessionaires, various other commercial recreation providers, and presumably some national NGOs. The remaining permits would be allocated to the public via lottery.

Peak traffic times at the Colorado National Monument have already maxed-out roads, parking turnouts, and campsites. As the NPS mulls “draconian measures” to manage burgeoning crowds within fragile natural environments, one cannot help but worry that even locals may someday have to wait to win the lotto in order to simply visit the treasure they see out their back windows everyday.

A school groups hikes a geologically interesting trail near Devil's Kitchen

A school groups hikes a geologically interesting trail near Devil’s Kitchen

With its current designation the Colorado National Monument is very accessible to school groups in the months from March to November. For small groups guided by parents and teachers no special arrangements are needed. For larger school groups doing educational, ranger-guided trips, they may do so with only a week or two advanced notice. Up to 100 students in a group can easily navigate most of the shorter trails in relative safety without the congestion, stress, and increased danger presented by tourists in large guided, or unguided groups.

MSCVD 51 "STEM" Summer School students enjoy a cliff side view

MSCVD 51 “STEM” Summer School students enjoy a cliff side view

Rappelling and climbing are also allowed within the CNM. Many hikers will use rappelling gear to drop into canyons during their excursions. Some groups simply like to focus on rappelling down cliff faces as a sole activity. Independence Rock, the literal heart of the CNM, is a destination for climbers. The traditional 4th of July planting of the American Flag at the top of Independence Rock goes back a hundred years.  Two years ago the NPS tried to ban climbing within Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and although some Western Senators were able to convince the NPS to postpone the ban, similar measures are being considered in other parks.

In 2013 the NPS created new “Wilderness Climbing Rules” that limit climbing and rappelling activities in many national parks, and could do so in what is now the Colorado National Monument. The new climbing rules would allow the NPS to remove existing bolts and ban the placing of new ones in certain areas. The Wilderness Climbing Rules also includes a “prior authorization” clause requiring climbers to “approach” park officers to place bolts, and even removable pitons. This means that climbers would have to apply to receive permission from the NPS–a possibly months or years-long process–to engage in the climbing and rappelling activities they so enjoy, and have done so for decades with few barriers.

Those pushing national park status for the Colorado National Monument seem to ignore the negative consequences that come with such a change; consequences that can be seen at other national parks throughout the country. Is losing access to our sustainable, relatively pristine local treasure worth the false “prestige” that comes with the title “National Park?”

More than Just a Name, the Monument is an Identity

The Iconic (and somewhat cornball) Munchies Monument Mural

The Iconic (and somewhat cornball) Munchies Monument Mural

To the people of the Grand Valley, the Colorado National Monument is more than just a visually stunning and culturally important patch of land to be designated this or that by politicians, it’s part of our regional identity. From its inception, the name of the Colorado National Monument has seeped into the lore, the history and the headings of Western Colorado.

Proponents say, “It’s only a name change.” That assertion is ludicrous from both political and economic standpoints, but it’s also a blow to the unique identity built up over a century by those who have lived in the shadow of the Colorado National Monument.

A certain proponent recently stated that “Rim Rock Canyons National Park” has a nice ring to it. Friends of the Colorado National Monument would disagree, as well as the scores of institutions and businesses which have taken its name.

  • Fruita Monument High School
  • The Monument Unit at Grand Mesa Youth Services
  • Monument Village Subdivision
  • Monument Aircraft Services
  • Monument Amusement and Vending Corp
  • Monument Assisted Living
  • Monument Baptist Church
  • Monument Blind and Shutter
  • Monument Cleaners
  • Monument Executive Center
  • Monument Grinding
  • Monument Garage Door
  • Monument Graphics and Communications
  • Monument Homes
  • Monument Inkjet, LLC
  • Monument Inn
  • Monument Laminated Surfaces
  • Monument Little League
  • Monument Medical Consultants
  • Monument Oil Co.
  • Monument Oral and Facial Surgery, P.C.
  • Monument Powder Coating
  • Monument Preschool
  • Monument Presbyterian Church
  • Monument Realty, Inc.
  • Monument Ridge Townhomes
  • Monument RV Resort
  • Monument Storage
  • Monument Survey Company
  • Monument Transportation
  • Monument Truck Repair
  • Monument Valley Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Monument Valley Properties, LLC
  • Monument View Bible Church
  • Monument Valley Liquor
  • Monument Well
  • Monument Well Service Company
  • Monument Wigs and Breast Forms
  • Monument Yoga
  • Monumental Smiles
  • Monumental Events and Tickets

…and there are others.

The Colorado National Monument is our local treasure. A risky redesignation to national park is not just an insult to common sense, its an insult to who we are.

The Fruita Allosaurus on Munchies Monument Mural

The Fruita Allosaurus on Munchies Monument Mural

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

                                                                                                                                

National Park Status is a Bad Idea: Informational Slides

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?

Letters of Opposition to “Irreversible” National Park

“Promised Overblown, Negatives Minimized”

As someone who already has Colorado National Monument in my back yard, I want to be clear about why I’m not eager to see Rim Rock Canyons National Park there instead.

My concerns are not simply about what might happen in my back yard. I have four main objections:

1. The “locally driven public process” produced a business bill in parks clothing. When the initial process found no consensus in favor of National Park status, we soon learned that was the wrong answer. A new, so-called grassroots campaign was launched to educate us. On the heels of this effort, a new group stacked with supporters was commissioned to write a bill that seems aimed at advancing business interests and protecting the oil and gas industry—not parks and the environment.

2. National Park tourism won’t diversify the economy. Overall national park visits have flattened and are declining in many locations. Bus tours, at the fore of the increased tourism argument, have also fallen dramatically in recent years. National Park visitation is extremely sensitive to the national economy. Any jobs created to serve park visitors will be few, seasonal and low-paid. Actual amenities, not a label intended for low-information travelers, are what will attract the kind of quality development the valley should be planning for.

3. The benefits of a name change have been overblown. It is true that a “National Park” label will attract distant tourists here—in the same way that calling the Grand Junction Rockies the Colorado Rockies might fill more seats at Suplizio Field. Will those visitors find their expectations met by the nation’s fourth smallest national park? Will they recommend it to other travelers after moving on to Arches, Zion and the Grand Canyon? For most of these travelers, we will be a brief stop rather than a destination.

4. The potential impacts have been minimized. Somehow the existing roads will be able to handle more traffic, cyclists will be just as safe, overlooks will accommodate more vehicles, trails and wild areas will remain pristine, and locals—the most frequent users of the resource—will continue to have the same experiences of this treasured place. There’s no such thing as a free ride on the National Park tour. Change always has a cost.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to share the Monument with others. I’m not paranoid about the Federal Government forcing us to breathe clean air. I care about good jobs. Instead of looking for ways to exploit this treasure, however, we should be preserving and protecting the many assets that make Grand Junction a great place to live—because they also make it a great place to visit.

Charlie Quimby 

Grand Junction

“Natural values should determine park status”

National parks are the “best of the best” with their unique natural features. Denali, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier and Crater Lake are examples of our best. They are generally remote from many urban areas and large in size, and they have features that are not found elsewhere. 

If the natural features of Colorado National Monument can compare to the best, then it is worthy of designation as a national park. However, if its natural features are similar to other areas in the region, it should remain a monument. National Park Service statistics show that both the Sand Dunes and Black Canyon have decreased in annual visitors since they were designated national parks, while the monument has continued to increase during the same period.

Thus, upgrading to park status is no guarantee of greater tourism numbers translating into local economic gain. If the primary reason for changing the monument to a national park is now focused on a perceived economic gain for the area, then there is no reason that all monuments should not be upgraded to park status to benefit their local areas. But that may not be a given. Potential economic gain should not be the deciding factor.

Giving the monument national park status may not put it in the “best of the best” category in the opinion of future visitors, which may have a negative impact on the local area. Make the change if it truly meets the values that the best have to offer. Being a great monument is not all bad. 

Ron Bell

“Changing monument to park a bad idea, Opposed by many”


After reading The Daily Sentinel’s editorial of April 29, I continue to be amazed at the naivete of this paper and that small select group of supporters who want to change the Colorado National Monument to a national park.
They keep bringing out the same old arguments about increasing tourism (questionable), unchanging air quality standards (these can be rewritten any time by the EPA), traffic concerns (our bicyclists have real concerns about regulations), etc.

The paper tries to dispel locals’ fears about increasing federal controls that would result from the change. After what has been happening in Nevada and Texas, can you blame citizens for not liking the idea of more federal intrusion from such a change? It is true that parks and monuments operate under the same rules, but parks are the crown jewels and more attention is paid to them. They are currently being used by the environmental movement (through the EPA and other organizations) to control the areas that surround them, bringing undesirable and unnecessary changes to communities and people’s lives.

My friends and I have spent a lot of time getting petitions signed in the Grand Junction area, opposing the change to park status. Most of the signers are happy with the current status of the monument and feel nothing is broken, so why “fix” it?  But, we’ve heard reports from former Park Service employees, residents of Glade Park, visitors to national parks elsewhere and those living outside national park areas that tell a far different story from what our local media do. They include intimidation, over-regulation, unfriendliness, etc.

The federal government is intruding more and more into our daily lives. Our country was founded originally to limit this. Organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency have no business even existing in the USA. When will people open their eyes and see what is happening to our lives and basic freedoms? Let Udall and Tipton and The Daily Sentinel know that changing our monument to a national park is a bad idea from start to finish.

SUE BENJAMIN
Grand Junction

“Full-throated Opposition”

I hope everyone understands the irreversible nature of the “national parks” process and will oppose the designation of the Colorado National Monument. It’s clear that the caveats in Sen. Mark Udall’s draft legislation are insufficient to protect the interests of Mesa County and businesses and residents that dwell in the shadow of the monument.

The retirees’ organization, along with the National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, among others, will lobby to strike any measure of local control from this bill. This article proves that a national park is not merely a feather in the cap of a regional tourist destination, but rather a federal enclave that affects everything around it.

Assurances from proponents that the monument will not be designated a Class I Area ring hollow as it becomes clear that the goals of the National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency and non-governmental orgnaizations such as the retirees’ organization are to create broad swaths of “pristine” public lands which are pretty to view, but where human activity is increasingly controlled and non-tourism industry is eliminated.

This legislation will not retain its current form. If introduced into the full Congress, it will be altered to fit the desires of lobbyists from powerful NGOs like the National Parks Conservation Association and other environmental groups who will demand it be designated a Class I Area.

The only way to assure that the lifestyles of residents who live near the monument (farmers, ranchers, business owners, bicyclists, families and the people of Glade Park) and energy interests and potentially thousands of jobs are not threatened by having a federal enclave in our backyard is to assert full-throated opposition to national park status.

Remember, folks: No Class I Areas or national parks have ever been reversed. This constitutes a permanent and potentially devastating change to our way of life in Western Colorado.

MARJORIE HAUN

Grand Junction

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: