No park, say foes of status change
Opponents of national park status for Colorado National Monument are gathering signatures on the Redlands with plans to offer them to former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo.
McInnis said the petition-gatherers have some good points, but he’s not a full-out opponent of national park status.
“I’m just not sure we’ve addressed the concerns,” McInnis said Thursday.
Redlands resident Ruth Ehlers, however, credited McInnis with providing her with information about “a lot of the negative aspects of doing this.”
McInnis served on a committee put together by U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., to look into the status upgrade. The committee made no recommendation after saying the Grand Valley was sharply divided on the idea.
“People are opposed to this en masse,” Ehlers said.
She and others have been collecting signatures on the petition at the Redlands Safeway, 2148 Broadway.
The Redlands area was the one in which the committee found the strongest opposition to the park proposal.
Palisade-area fruitgrowers have similar misgivings, fearing they’ll be prohibited from burning fields and irrigation ditches because of the possible effects on the view and air quality in a national park, Ehlers said.
One concern is that a national park would require a buffer zone, McInnis and Ehlers both said.
That’s an issue because the monument abuts populated areas of Grand Junction and Mesa County and visitors can view the length of the Grand Valley from Rim Rock Drive.
Park status has drawn support from several organizations, such as the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association and Grand Junction Economic Partnership on the condition that the legislation addresses local concerns such as air quality, access to Glade Park and the establishment of a local committee that could reverse some decisions by the National Park Service.
Udall in a town meeting in 2009 said he would allow local interests to draft the bill for park status.
Residents need to have assurances that Udall and Tipton would pull the measure if those important provisions were removed, McInnis said.
Even that wouldn’t help, said Ehlers, the immediate past chairwoman of the Mesa County Republican Party, pointing to controversy surrounding the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice.
“You cannot trust the federal government,” Ehlers said.
In any case, she said, her effort isn’t a Republican Party one, and she’s getting signatures from Democrats and liberals, as well.
Ehlers said she plans to present her petitions to McInnis next week to demonstrate the depth of opposition to park status.