Speakers share their vision of monument

Bicycles came up, but so did the needs of older people who want to make greater use of the outdoors and those of younger people who don’t know much about Colorado National Monument or the forces that shaped it.

Those issues and others came up as about two dozen people met with Colorado National Monument staff on Tuesday to discuss how Grand Valley residents and the managers of the federal property overlooking it can make the most of the relationship.

The meeting at Two Rivers Convention Center was first of a second round of gatherings sparked by plans to develop a visitor activity and commercial services plan, which sprang from friction between the National Park Service and backers of a professional bicycle race when the Park Service turned down race proposals.

Bicycling, professional or otherwise, remains a hot-button issue for park users, participants in small-group meetings told monument and Park Service officials.

Professional bike races burnish the image of the valley and pump up the local economy, said resident Ruth Ehlers.

“It would attract people from all over the world,” Ehlers said.

There could be too much of a good thing, however, said John Hodge, who warned the Park Service that no event should be able to claim “a monopoly on the resource.”

Bicyclists pose a road danger, to themselves and to motorists, one that deserves special attention from park officials, some participants said, suggesting that there be some way of alerting drivers that bikers were inside some of the longer tunnels.

Pressed on whether the Park Service could provide a bike lane along Rim Rock Drive, Superintendent Lisa Eckert noted that the road is itself on the National Register of Historic Places and can’t be updated.

Participants also urged monument staff to do more to bring students and children in, to acquaint them with the forces that carved the monument’s monoliths and curves into serpentine sandstone walls. And if not a bike race, perhaps a professional foot race along the trails, one participant suggested.

Eckert is no longer looking to draft an elaborate visitor activity and commercial services plan, but she said she is looking to community meetings to build a “cohesive” approach to proposals for special events on the monument.

A second meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today in the Fruita Community Center, 324 N. Coulson St., and a third will be Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Glade Park Community Building, 101 Road 16.5


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