Public input warranted on national monument

Wow, Joan Anzelmo really doesn’t like local community input when it comes to Colorado National Monument.

She didn’t like it when she was superintendent of the monument. In fact, she developed a reputation for rejecting advice from community members, even some of those who served on the board of the Colorado National Monument Association.

Now, as board member of the National Park Service Retirees, she is still trying to limit local input into how the monument operates. Specifically, her retirees group has objected to an effort initiated by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar last year to conduct meetings to allow people in this community to participate in deciding what kinds of activities will be approved at the monument.

The Park Service described the effort as the first of its kind in the nation, one that could serve as a model for other national parks and monuments. But members of the National Parks Retirees describe it as a bad idea, especially during the current budget sequester, because the Park Service will be hiring an outside organization to conduct the public meeting.

It’s clear that budget concerns are only a secondary issue with Anzelmo’s group, however, which also said drafting a community-based management plan is a bad idea at any time.

Anzelmo herself said that members of the retirees group “were shocked” when they learned last November “that the monument was planning to hold a series of community meetings.”

Anzelmo also said her group “believes that current federal law provides plenty of guidance to park management.” She added that she relied on those laws to evaluate a variety of applications for use of the monument while she was superintendent.

That’s an especially hypocritical comment from Anzelmo, because she most definitely did not rely on federal law when she rejected the application for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to run a stage across the monument. Federal law on such events hasn’t changed since the 1980s, when Colorado National Monument allowed professional bike races for five years.

What’s changed is internal Park Service policy on such races. But that policy doesn’t have the force of law. In fact, making such arbitrary decisions is the antithesis of abiding by the rule of law. And it’s a potent reminder of why the community input process initiated by Salazar and being implemented under current Colorado National Monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert is both needed and welcome.

The National Park Service Retirees group has as much right as any other group or individual to comment on activities at the national monument. But its objection to allowing members of this community a forum to express their own views on monument activities is troubling and diminishes the group’s credibility.


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