Heads need to roll over monument ban

First things first. Designating Colorado National Monument as a national park will not give the federal government any more authority than it already has to manage the land in question.

Not that it needs any. The National Park Service has proven itself quite capable of making unpopular decisions regardless of misconceptions about the level of authority it derives from one designation over another.

So, the public shouldn’t point to the agency’s recent decision to ban trucks from hauling propane or other fuels on Monument Road as a harbinger of federal overreach to come. It should simply condemn the decision on its face. It’s wrong because it bucks procedure. Indeed, there was no procedure whatsoever to justify this change.

Park Superintendent Lisa Eckert has done herself no favors in fighting perceptions of a tone-deaf federal agency that cares little about being a good neighbor.

It’s clear the Park Service did not take the proper steps to undergird such a major federal action. Eckert cited safety concerns aired during “public listening sessions” with Glade Park and other residents, but no mention of a proposed ban was ever posted on the Colorado National Monument website or the Federal Register. Nobody, apparently, other than Eckert knew that a ban on fuel and propane trucks was a potential outcome of the listening sessions.

The sessions were nowhere near substantive enough to alter Glade Park’s long-standing and continual right of way. In 1986 Glade Park residents won a federal court ruling upholding the right to use the East Hill route through the monument without charge.

The Park Service prohibition of fuel or hazardous materials transportation on the East Hill means propane trucks will have to use Little Park Road to make deliveries to Glade Park residents, most of whom rely on propane for heating.

Eckert characterized the ban as pre-emptively heading off a disaster. A Park Service notice dated May 1 states the ban is necessary “for the maintenance of public health, protection of environmental or scenic values or protection of natural resources.”

Those are valid reasons and well within the scope of the Park Service’s management imperative — provided the agency follows National Environmental Policy Act guidelines. It clearly did not. It remains unclear who actually received the May 1 “notice.” As of this writing, it does not appear on the monument’s website, nor does it appear in the National Park Service’s online forum for such notices.

Our sense of outrage is less about the implications of the decision than the manner in which it was reached.

Was it done thoughtfully with the input of those affected? No. Instead, the Park Service is acting as if a disaster is imminent, despite a lack of evidence and a complete disregard for cargo, weight and size restrictions on the road that already safeguard the public welfare.

What we have is a capricious, arbitrary and drastic decision that breeds suspicion of the federal government and violates the public trust.

If the Park Service hopes to have any credibility in this community, it will stay the ban, pending the outcome of a bona fide NEPA process. We further call on National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to hold senior management at the monument accountable.

There are other methods of improving public safety, but they require meaningful dialogue and sustained working relationships. Not bans that materialize out of the ether.

A silver lining in this ordeal is that it perfectly illustrates the irrelevance of park status. Same agency. Same rules. Same arbitrary results.

Whether we have a monument or a national park, we will be dealing with the same Park Service. We need a Park Service that is serious about “enhancing and maintaining relationships with local communities,” as its website states.

It’s decisions like these that should give residents pause — not park status.

When things are this bad, how can they get any worse?


COMMENTS

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By S. Price
Colorado needs to take back ALL of the public lands from the federal government. The federal government consistently does very little to provide services they are being paid to do. Instead it keeps expanding the number of employees or agencies and reducing its services. It make arbitrary decisions that costs the tax payers money or have to go to court to settle issues created by their overreaching authority. Colorado public lands were maintained exceedingly better before the feds stuck their nose in.

The Sentinel’s editorial is right on the money.
On it’s face, from a philosophical point of view, I don’t care whether you call the piece of ground in question “Colorado National Monument” or “Colorado Canyons National Park”.
My main concern has always been that Mesa County, and especially Glade Park, voters don’t fully understand what they are up against.
To gain a more complete understanding of the evil nature of arrogant federal government overreach, I wish every voter in Mesa County would take the time to read the blog I posted on my website titled, “Arrogant government scumbaggery tries to shut down venerable oyster farm” at http://bit.ly/1lNYxsv . The two video documentaries I embedded in the post are especially interesting and informative.
Dr. Cory S. Goodman, an environmental scientist, had to file an FOIA request (which the National Park Service refused) to get the data the NPS used to justify closing an oyster farm which actually benefited the environment. Diane Feinstein intervened, and Goodman was finally given the data. After examining it, Goodman said: “When I got that data two weeks later, it was clear that there actually had been an 80% decline (in harbor seal numbers) at a location. That was a location called sand bar A. That location was in the wilderness area. That location was far, far away from the oysters. That location – it’s a long story – but the sand bar had become connected to the mainland, and both hikers (i.e. one source of problems, human beings) as well as coyotes and other predators were getting across and chasing them away. Sure enough, there had been exactly the 80% decline IN THE WILDERNESS AREA. Did I mention: in the wilderness area? That’s where humans were disturbing harbor seals, and there was no such decline anywhere near the oyster farm. Now, if you saw one mistake, you’d say, well OK, you might say, sloppy use of data. But the fact is, now – and I’ve only given you the tip of the iceberg – we’re seeing mistake after mistake after mistake; misuse of data after misuse of data after misuse of date. And it’s always with the same sign. Finding environmental harm where none exists. That’s not science. That’s a belief. That’s an agenda. And what do I call that? In the world I come from, it’s called misconduct. That’s called scientific misconduct.”
Where I come from, we call behavior such as that manifested by Lisa Eckert’s edict “manipulativeness” and “arrogance”.
I believe those who take the time to watch the videos will call the overreach “lying”.
It doesn’t much matter what you call it, as long as you understand the nature of the bureaucratic beast you are dealing with.

Thank you for understanding how such “capricious” decisions affect the very lives and livings of individuals who count on access to public roadways. With her unilateral prohibition of essential vehicles, Eckert may have forever extinguished any chance that she will be the superintendent of a national park instead of a national monument. Though the NPS manages the Monument, one has to wonder why those like Eckert are so out-of-touch with the real-world challenges of those who live right outside it boundaries. Glade Park is a ranching community; fuel, hay, livestock, and other commodities are the lifeblood of that little town. Anyone who has ever attempted to drive Little Park Road with a big load in inclement weather knows that it presents much greater dangers than the potential “hazards” of Monument Road. Eckert’s poorly executed pronouncement, if not reversed, will consign the ranchers of Glade Park, to the near impossible and extremely dangerous task of trying to maintain their operations by risking their safety on infamous Little Park Road.

PART 2: From a purely pragmatic point of view, I oppose turning the Colorado National Monument into Colorado Canyons National Park. Doing so erroneously presupposes honorable intentions and forthright behavior from Big Bureaucracy, neither of which are likely to happen any time soon.
In the fascinating case of the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company, Ken Salazar and Big Bureacracy were opposed to the oyster farm, while Pete McCloskey and Diane Feinstein were in favor of the oyster farm.
The National Academy of Sciences, at public expense, had done two studies on the issue, and came to the conclusion there was no adverse environmental impact by the oysters. Feinstein went along with new legislation provided those studies be part of the legislation (which would help the oyster farm be grandfathered in). The Department of Interior and NPS dismissed the NAS studies out of hand because the NAS had not defined the word “major”. Obviously Big Bureaucracy had an unspoken agenda, which was that the “first marine wilderness in continental U.S.” could be designated.
So much for the naive idea that the public right of way and access to Glade Park can or will be written into the proposed legislation. Big Bureacracy and Congress, like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla can do whatever they want to any time they please. Anybody who doesn’t like that will have to learn how to fight the local Good-Old-Boy duopoly political hacks and assorted players at all levels who, directly or indirectly, support and enable centralized anti-constitution Big Brother corruption and cronyism.
The devil you know is preferable to the devil you don’t know. If the CNM were turned into a national park, as a pragmatic really, there will literally be no end to the bureaucratic garbage which can be pulled by the type of lying NPS bureaucrats who base their agenda-driven manipulations of the fraudulent pretense that they care more about “children” and “the environment” than the rest of us.
I’m talking about the type of illogic which allows daily recreational bicycle travel to make life more difficult and dangerous for nonrecreational Glade Part traffic, but pretends that a two-hour restriction for a world-class professional bicycle race which would draw favorable attention and economic activity to the area is a violation of the NPS’s prime directive and the best interests of the resource.
In my opinion, any and all heads which are diseased with that type of manipulative illogic should indeed roll. (Hyperbolically and politically speaking, of course.)

The Sentinel is right, designating the Monument a National Park will not increase the authority one whit. However, why encourage the Federal Government’s outrageous behavior by approving any upgrade.

We have seen in this decision and the unilateral decision issued by the BLM on the Sage Grouse that the Federal Government Officials have no desire to work with the local population. It is their way or the highway.

Where does this power come from, for bureaucracies to make decisions with out consent of the Governed? Where are the powers derived? There is no part of the Constitution which allows Government Agencies to make any decisions damaging taxpayers.

The Arrogance is complete. Do not give them more excuses. No National Park.

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