National park designation plan must be well-vetted, Club 20 says

Any legislation that would designate Colorado National Monument as a national park should pass local muster before it is introduced, Club 20 said Thursday.

“We have to get it right the first time,” Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke said during a meeting Thursday of Club 20’s committee on public lands and natural resources.

Club 20, which advocates for the Western Slope, and the chamber agreed to work together in evaluating a redesignation of the monument as a national park.

The chamber has yet to endorse a proposal to redesignate the 100-year-old monument, but that’s not because of opposition, Schwenke said.

Instead, the chamber wants to make sure a national park that towers above the Grand Valley remains an asset to the communities below.

“We don’t want to have to bus people in” as is done in Yosemite National Park in California, Schwenke said, referring to a comment by her board of directors.

At the same time, the chamber wants to make the most of the opportunity presented by the monument’s proximity to boost tourism, she said.

There already are flights that arrive at Grand Junction Regional Airport bound by bus to the national parks in Utah, monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said.

Though it’s administered by the National Park Service, Colorado National Monument isn’t on the itinerary for those tours and won’t be because the 20,000-acre monument isn’t listed as a national park, Anzelmo said.

“If you Google ‘park,’ the national monument is not going to come up,” making it more difficult to get on the travel plans of visitors, Schwenke said.

Among the issues that officials want to see addressed are worries that air-quality requirements for a monument or park could harm economic development in the Grand Valley.

No changes in the size of the monument or in other management needs are contemplated in the proposal, Anzelmo said.

The monument is now managed as Class II air quality area under the Clean Air Act, as are the nearby Black Ridge and Dominguez Canyon wilderness areas.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., is to conduct a listening tour about the possible national park designation at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Maverick Student Center at Mesa State College.


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