Rim Rock Canyons National Park?
The Daily Sentinel has made no secret of its support for designating Colorado National Monument a national park. We believe it will be a benefit to the community and its economy without adding burdens or cost to the region.
Now that Sen. Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton have released a proposal for legislation to change it to Rim Rock Canyons National Park — a proposal drafted by a working group assembled by the two lawmakers last year specifically to address local concerns — people can see for themselves how the legislation might be written.
They can also offer their comments to Tipton and Udall through a website set up for that purpose. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t include the actual language of proposed legislation drafted by the working group, just bullet-point highlights. We would have preferred the language be available on the website, so people can make fully informed comments.
The actual language is available at http://www.gjsentinel.com.
We hope the large majority of those who examine the proposal will see the efforts that have been made to protect local interests while promoting park status for the monument.
Among those protections are measures to do the following:
✔ Ensure there are no changes to existing rights-of-way.
✔ Guarantee that existing water rights are unaffected. The Department of Interior could only seek new water rights for the park by following Colorado water law.
✔ Maintain existing Class II federal air quality classification for the park. That could only be changed at the request of Mesa County and the state of Colorado.
✔ Prohibit the creation of buffer zones around the park.
✔ Limit the park to the existing monument boundaries.
✔ Ensure public access to Glade Park remains unchanged.
In addition to all of those protections, the proposal calls for the creation of a 15-member Rim Rock Canyons National Park Advisory Committee that would include representatives of the county and all of the incorporated municipalities in the Grand Valley, as well as people from Glade Park and the Redlands. Also, there would be representatives from the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
These provisions should go a long way toward assuaging any lingering local concerns that park designation would somehow stymie our economy or create new obstacles for businesses.
And, while we don’t believe that park designation is a panacea for the local economy, we do believe it can boost area tourism. People who now pass by on their way to national parks in Utah and other parts of the West will be more inclined to stop and see the geologic treasures of something called Rim Rock Canyons National Park than to visit a facility with the bland and confusing name of Colorado National Monument.
Udall and Tipton have set no date for the end of public comment on this. We hope the release of the proposal this week provokes a demonstration of solid local support.