Reverse fuel ban on monument, county says

The Mesa County Commission has demanded a meeting with Colorado National Monument officials to discuss the prohibition of fuel and hazardous materials bound for Glade Park via the East Hill entrance.

The commission was “shocked and disappointed” with the decision by Superintendent Lisa Eckert to ban the transportation of fuels such as propane and other hazardous materials from the Grand Junction entrance, a letter sent Thursday to the monument says.

“Mesa County views this as contrary to the public’s right of way,” the letter says. “Federal courts have recognized that the public has a right of access across East Entrance Road for purposes of traveling between Grand Junction and Glade Park.”

The commissioners asked that Eckert reverse her decision immediately.

Park Service officials didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

Eckert, in a notice dated May 1, said the east end of Rim Rock Drive would be closed to the transportation of fuels such as propane, on which Glade Park residents rely for heating, as well as diesel and other materials used by ranches, as of July 1. She later extended the date to Aug. 1

Little Park Road, which skirts the monument’s east side, should be used instead, Eckert said, noting that she had determined that transporting fuels and other hazardous materials posed safety concerns that couldn’t be overlooked.

No incidents involving hazardous materials on the monument have taken place since at least 2006, the commissioners said in their letter.

The prohibition also would be a hindrance to the county, which maintains the road, as well as the Glade Park Volunteer Fire Department, the letter noted.

The commission letter follows by three days a meeting in Glade Park in which about 130 people complained to county officials that the ban would pose a hardship on them, especially if Little Park Road were to be inaccessible during the winter.

Residents also wondered whether the ban would extend to propane deliveries to the Park Service visitor center.

The monument has previously agreed to consult with the county, the commissioners’ letter said.

“Hopefully the Park Service will take seriously the feelings of the community,” Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said. “We have legal doing research in the event the monument is not cooperative.”


COMMENTS

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Our local governments are the last line of defense against the overreach and damaging policies of autocratic government agencies who believe citizens exist to serve them. Thanks to the Mesa County Board of Commissioners for listening to their constituents, and responding quickly against Eckert’s unnecessary and damaging policy. The National Park Service is a guest in Mesa County, not vise versa.

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