Email letters, Sept. 13, 2012

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While I do not find the “Agency approach to bike race perplexing”, I agree with former Representative Scott McInnis that the National Park Service should grant a waiver for “our community’s request to use a stretch of Rim Rock Drive in Colorado’s National Monument as part of a leg of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge” – for two reasons:

First, “our community’s efforts” constitute a bipartisan endeavor to promote economic benefits for the Grand Valley.  Our Country sorely needs more such bipartisanship, and Western Colorado needs whatever economic boosts that can reasonably be generated.  Therefore, all federal agencies should be sympathetic to opportunities like this – when they advance both legitimate objectives.

Second, none of the statutory and regulatory objections raised by dedicated, responsible stewards of the Colorado National Monument are inherently insurmountable. 

Rather, if it is true that “representatives of this agency seem to believe that there is no way to manage the minimal impacts of this event”, then either those impacts are not as “minimal” as McInnis suggests, or event planners have not convincingly minimized them – whether the “stretch” is only four miles or 23 miles (as in “American Flyer”).

Given the topography of and sensitive fauna and flora along either route, anyone who has seen a bike race must surely realize that both safely accommodating hundreds of waiting spectators and protecting the natural values of John Otto’s legacy are daunting tasks – but not necessarily impossible within adequately supervised limits.

If the Tour of the Valley and Ride the Rockies can “ride the Monument” for charity, then a commercial bike race (and other credible enterprises) can be allowed to do likewise – in exchange for a substantial charitable contribution to a Monument Trust, an adequate bond for unintended damages, and an ironclad “hold harmless” agreement to protect taxpayers. 

              Bill Hugenberg

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