Ex-park official lauded for stand against bike race

Anzelmo wins conservation award for efforts to protect monument

Joan Anzelmo

Former Colorado National Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo received a conservation-based award for denying a professional bicycling stage race to occur in the park.

The Stephen T. Mather Award is endowed by Booz Allen Hamilton and was awarded to Anzelmo for her “commitment to preserving the integrity and open access of the park for all visitors,” according to a press release from the National Parks Conservation Association.

Anzelmo served as park superintendent from May 2007 to July 2011.

Local organizers of Colorado’s Pro Challenge bike race last year submitted several race route proposals for the 2012 race that included having the professional cyclists traverse Rim Rock Road on the monument.

Anzelmo denied the proposals, citing National Park Service policy, negative impacts to the park and a park closure for the public.

Anzelmo’s decision was backed by National Park Service officials despite terse meetings with local organizers and Park Service officials.

“Her actions last year at Colorado National Monument, in preventing the overt commercialization of the park by a privately sponsored competition, despite personal attacks and political maneuvering, are merely the latest examples of her dedication to the principles the National Parks System is built upon,” said David Nimkin, Southwest Regional Office director of the National Parks Conservation Association.

Local bike race organizers are again proposing routes to the Pro Challenge committee for a 2012 stage race in the Grand Valley, but local organizers have not secured a permit to use the monument as part of the race course.

The Stephen T. Mather Award is named after the Park Service’s first director.

A new superintendent to replace Anzelmo will be chosen and that person will be introduced to the community within about three months, the National Park Service said. Michelle Wheatley is interim superintendent.


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