Park status won’t harm landowners, backers say

Upgrading Colorado National Monument to a national park won’t jeopardize property owners along its border, proponents of park status said.

There will be no “buffer zone” around the park because it’s already surrounded by private property as well as lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, said Terri Chappell of Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park, noting that she spoke to National Park Service officials.

Opponents of park status are circulating a petition of opposition on the Redlands, citing the potential harm to adjacent property owners and threats to economic development within the Grand Valley.

“We at Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park are decisively underwhelmed these ‘opponents’ did not learn the facts about this important issue before asking residents to sign their name to a nameless petition,” Chappell said in an email.

The opposition is “late to the game and woefully uninformed,” Chappell said, noting that a study committee had conducted extensive research on the subject.

Backers of park status have insisted that the boundaries would remain the same if the monument were to become a park and Chappell said a change would in no way affect the rights of property owners near or adjoining the monument.

“Further, it takes an act of Congress to create a national park and once it’s done, it would take an act of Congress (not some bureaucratic whim) to change either its status or boundaries,” Chappell said. “That’s not the case with current monument status which under the Antiquities Act allows the president to add or diminish its size or status at any time he chooses to do so.”

An upgrade in the monument’s designation also would attract foreign and domestic tour groups, many of which now land at Grand Junction Regional Airport and immediately depart for national parks in Utah, taking their sales-tax dollars with them, Chappell said.

Opponents plan to present their petition to U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., in about four weeks, organizer Sue Benjamin said.

“We have quite a few out there that have been signed and we have 25 people out there who are (carrying petitions) and it keeps growing,” Benjamin said.

Tipton and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., appointed the study committee in 2009 and have said they will decide this summer whether to offer legislation.

The committee made no recommendation after finding that the community seems split on changing the designation.


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As a resident of the Redlands and a frequent cyclist in the Colorado National Monument, I—like former Congressman Scott McInnis – agree that the opponents of national park status raise “some good points”, but am not “full out opposed” to re-designation.

1.  Contrary to the petitioners’ representation, Senator Udall has repeatedly assured us that there is absolutely no difference in the management regime applicable to national parks versus national monuments.  If that is not the case, we should be told so now.

2.  Thus, any regulations regarding “view sheds” are presumably already applicable,  do not imply expansion of park/monument boundaries to encompass the entirety of the Grand Valley, but may indeed provide much-needed incentives for better local controls of particulate matter pollution (burning) and energy conservation (“candle power”).

3.    Any differences in regulations arising from local conditions would presumably be specifically addressed in the legislation itself, and I doubt that either the EPA or any other federal agency could successfully override the explicit instructions of Congress.

4.  Increased mega-bus and RV traffic would indeed be a more serious problem than it already is – both for safety and road maintenance.  I suggest construction of a plaza at the west entrance—at which their occupants would transfer to natural gas powered mini-buses.  Eventually, gasoline-only passenger cars might be similarly restricted.

5.  Glade Park residents can be protected by issuing gratis renewable passes that can be electronically read as vehicles pass through gates.  Reasonably priced passes could also be issued to commercial vehicles frequenting Glade Park, but which opt not to use Little Park Road. 

6.  Accommodation of commercial bike races is irrelevant to the designation issue.

Moreover, any position overtly based on a fundamental distrust of the federal government is inherently suspect – the IRS and Justice Department “scandals” not withstanding.

“Construction of a plaza at the west entrance” or east that amounts to a transit substation presumably would impact adjacent landowners and view sheds. The Park Service currently uses land adjacent to a residential subdivision at the east entrance as a staging ground for road work. Dirt, rubble and construction equipment are right on the border.

Chapelle keeps citing these magical flights full of tourists eager to spend their dollars here. But the actual studies of economic impact I’ve seen don’t support the claims that redesignation will be an economic boon. If her group has something, we should see it, since the economic impact is supposed to be the main selling point.

Personally, I think they are acting like a Cargo Cult and trying to convince the rest of us to join.

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