Monument lost $30,000 over 16-day shutdown
Colorado National Monument likely lost about $30,000 over the 16 days of the federal shutdown. Monument officials, meanwhile, are surveying the area for damages, monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert said.
The monument reopened to the public Thursday morning and though the entrance stations had yet to be staffed, the length of Rim Rock Drive was open to motorists and bicycle-riders, Eckert said.
“There has been some property damage to your national monument,” Eckert said, declining to elaborate. “We’re still assessing the situation.”
The end of the shutdown happened in time for the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau to plan for a breakfast on the monument for a familiarization tour of European travel officials visiting national parks in the western United States.
The tour will spend three nights in Grand Junction, using the city as a base for parks in Utah and Colorado, as well as other sights. Officials had feared they would be able to show off the monument only from a distance.
“We’re really glad it’s open,” said Barbara Bowman, bureau division manager.
A survey of Mesa County and other properties is under way and one Grand Junction hotel lost two tours as a result of the federal shutdown, Bowman said.
A Denver tour promoter lost about $30,000 worth of business, she said.
October “is such a big touring month,” as people take advantage of cooler weather and changing colors in the high country, Bowman said.
Records for 2012 showed that the monument collected $25,000 in entrance fees and $5,000 in camping fees during the days corresponding with the shutdown, Eckert said.
The Colorado National Monument Association reopened its bookstore in the monument visitor center Thursday, but only after losing an estimated $13,000 over the shutdown period, the association said.
The loss “represents a serious blow to our small nonprofit organization that exists solely to enhance and support our national treasure here in the Grand Valley,” board Chairwoman Ginny McBride said.
Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officers maintained normal shifts during the shutdown and issued two trash-dumping citations, one of which resulted in an arrest, agency spokesman Christopher Joyner said.
A road-striping crew had been scheduled to work on Rim Rock Drive during the days the monument was closed, Eckert said, but the crew has been rescheduled to do the job in November.