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.