As Friends of the Colorado National Monument, we are simply a group of people who live near the Monument and want to preserve its beauty, accessibility, and balanced relationship with its human neighbors, and I would urge you to take time and reflect on our great success. Coming together informally about one year ago, and more informally two months ago, giving ourselves a name, website, and mission statement, we have brought the issues facing the Grand Valley, and the possible negative impact of national park status, to the attention of thousands in Mesa County. The troubling attitude and punishing policies of National Park Service director at CNM, Lisa Eckert, have made news statewide, and our message has caught the attention in many in Utah who know how national parks can change the economic and cultural landscape of a region for decades, turning towns with mixed economies into tourist attractions with low-paying service jobs and little opportunity, while driving out industry and development because of the crushing EPA restrictions that come with national park status.
There are many who have dedicated their time, money, talent, and hearts to this cause, and it appears that Friends of the Colorado National Monument has a message which IS resonating with the public as well as our local leaders in Western Colorado.
We are conservationists. Unlike those bureaucrats in far-flung offices somewhere in Washington D.C. and Federal Buildings in capitol cities, we do not live in artificial environments. We do not view the nature around us from the point of policy makers, but as inhabitants. We don’t think of our natural resources in theoretical terms, we depend on then, and so preserve them to the best of our ability. We do not look at pretty pictures of Western Colorado and say, “that should be a national park,” we interact with the Colorado National Monument on a daily basis.
It is the backdrop to our homes. It is the haven of our solace and hope. It is the friend we call upon to help us remember what is really important in life, and what is truly permanent. It is the gateway to twilight as the sun tumbles down its northern rim anticline, to wink out in a brilliant good night on the western desert. It is our home.
And we are its stewards. That’s why it’s simply not necessary to turn this highly protected national monument into a national park which will inevitably place unnecessary and harmful restrictions on our lives and our livelihoods. Let’s keep the balance. Let’s preserve the environment. Let’s keep the Colorado National Monument as it is.