Archives for : mismanagement

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?