Gardner takes canyon tour

Senator: Trip provides 'color' to debate on conservation funding

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner takes in the spectacular scenery during a hike Wednesday in Devils Canyon of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area with members of the Colorado Canyons Association, the Bureau of Land Management and staff from his offices.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo,. hiked through 10,000 years of human history Wednesday morning in a walk up Devils Canyon, to the site of a development that failed in the wake of the oil shale bust and then was revived as a destination of a different sort.

Gardner snapped photos, examined interpretive signs and studied the red-rock backdrop of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area with representatives of Fruita, the Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado Canyons Association.

The Devils Canyon Trail weaves up the Uncompahgre uplift, passing through what remains of the subdivision, at which some golf-course tee boxes, utilities and a road to the most expensive lot still remain.

Money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund was used to acquire the land for public use after the 1982 bust, said Katie Stevens, BLM Grand Junction Field Office manager.

Gardner earlier this month introduced legislation sponsored with U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and others to permanently authorize the fund.

Trips such as Wednesday’s hike “provide color and background” to debate on the Senate floor about legislation such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Gardner said.

Gardner also couldn’t resist promoting his planned legislation to move the BLM headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction.

“I’m trying to get you some company,” he told Stevens.

Devils Canyon last year attracted about 66,000 visitors and the surrounding McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area about 300,000, said Collin Ewing, manager of the national conservation area.

That makes it a big economic driver for Fruita, Parks and Recreation Director Ture Nycum said.

Whether to remove the evidence of the failed subdivision is a matter of some controversy, given that the trail itself leads into wild lands well separated from civilization.

At the same time, it’s also a part of the 10,000-year human history of the area, said Zebulon Miracle, vice president of the Colorado Canyons Association and curator of curiosity at Gateway Canyons Resort.

“For me, it helps tell the story,” of the human experience and “it tells why we have NCAs around,” Miracle said.


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