Park Service retirees: Monument meetings a bad, expensive idea
The National Park Service by next month is likely to announce the hiring of an organization to conduct Grand Valley community meetings that will allow residents to participate in deciding the kinds of activities that will be allowed on Colorado National Monument.
The drafting of the plan, however, has come under criticism by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, which said in a letter to the Park Service that it was unnecessary and particularly misplaced because of the sequester, under which each federal agency is to reduce spending by 5 percent.
The retirees organization “is an important group we take very seriously,” Park Service spokesman James Doyle said. “We’ll certainly respond as fully as possible to their letter, but we’re moving forward with the process.”
Park Service officials hope to complete the plan by the end of this year.
The “visitor-activity and commercial-services plan” is intended to be mutually beneficial to Park Service officials and residents as proposals for activities in the monument arise, Doyle said.
Drafting the plan will give Park Service officials a better sense of the community’s desires while involvement would provide residents an opportunity to understand “what restraints we operate under,” Doyle said.
The retirees organization, however, said that drafting the plan sends a bad message at any time, but especially during a time of fiscal austerity.
“To a person our board was shocked when first learning in November that the monument was planning to hold a series of community meetings,” retirees spokeswoman Joan Anzelmo said Thursday.
Anzelmo is the predecessor of current monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert.
It was under Anzelmo that the Park Service and supporters of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge came to loggerheads when the Park Service rejected a leg of the bicycle race over the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive, which overlooks a series of hanging canyons, towering spires, red-hued cliffs and the Grand Valley below.
The proposed drafting of a visitor-activity and commercial-services plan emerged after Eckert took over the reins of the monument and soon after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited the monument in September, meeting with Park Service officials and members of the local organizing committee.
“The coalition believes that current federal law provides plenty of guidance to park managers,” Anzelmo said, noting she relied on those laws as superintendent to evaluate a wide variety and large number of applications for use of the monument.