Mediator to conduct meetings about use of monument

The National Park Service will conduct two public meetings in July aimed at collecting comment about the kinds of activities that should be allowed at Colorado National Monument.

Boulder-based CDR Associates, a recognized Colorado mediation firm, will conduct the meetings as a first step in drafting a visitor-activity and commercial-services plan for the monument.

The plan is intended to guide both Park Service officials and the public in determining the kinds of activities that will be allowed.

It’s in part an effort to resolve friction between the Park Service and Grand Valley backers of a leg of the USA Pro Challenge bicycle race on the monument. Park Service officials rejected applications for the race and cited potential harm from the race to the values the monument was founded to protect.

The first session will be fom 4 to 7 p.m. July 9 in the Fruita Community Center. The second will be from noon to 3 p.m. July 10 in the University Center Ballroom at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

CDR Associates counts among its successes the crafting of a winter-use plan in Yellowstone National Park to deal with conflicts between wintering animals and snow-machine users, monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert said.

Eckert late last year broached the idea of allowing Grand Valley residents to have a say in drafting the visitor-activity and commercial-use plan, which would be the first-ever such guide for the Park Service.

“I want to thank everyone for their patience,” Eckert said Friday.

Mary Margaret Golten of CDR Associates will meet with residents to get a sense of issues in advance of the public meetings and will likely offer a series of open-ended questions, Eckert said.

Residents, however, can prepare for the meetings by considering what special activities are important to them, “and what’s important to you and the community about the monument,” Eckert said.


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