Monument closure won’t jam gears for race

A Colorado National Monument ranger collects an entry fee at the east entrance Monday. The monument and other National Park Service sites were to close today after Congress failed to approve funding for federal government operations for fiscal 2014, which begins today.

The bike tour will go on, federal government shutdown or not.

Organizers of the ICON Lasik Tour of the Moon, which is scheduled to cross Colorado National Monument this weekend, have a contingency plan in place if the federal shutdown continues and closes Colorado National Monument, as well as other venues, such as Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Organizers of the Tour of the Moon are hoping that Democrats and Republicans can reach a deal before 2 p.m. Friday, which is pretty much the deadline for them to prepare the course for a Saturday morning ride for 2,000 registered riders, said Mike Heaston, owner of Event Marketing Group.

If no agreement is reached in Washington, D.C., Park Service officials were to lower gates at the intersection of DS Road and Rim Rock Road and place signage on the various trails into the monument warning visitors that the monument is closed and most employees furloughed, officials said.

“We’re hoping the dissension ceases before the end of the week,” Heaston said.

Officials with the Colorado National Monument Association are looking for temporary quarters to sell guidebooks, hats and other monument memorabilia, Executive Director Linda Spinner said.

Staff members were to get access to the visitor center this morning to take what inventory they could to stock the new facility, Spinner said.

Plans for controlled burns on Grand Mesa, however, will be put off by the shutdown, according to the Bureau of Land Management, which employs firefighters who would conduct the burns.

One thing that will go forward today is the first day of open enrollment for the federal mandate that all individuals have health insurance., a state insurance exchange, was to open for business as scheduled under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


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