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.


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Why don’t they put the decision to a vote by the citizens of the county instead of an appointed committee of 15? With elections coming this Sept. would be a good time or call for a special ballot election. Mostly what I have heard is National Park status is unwanted. S. Price

When I tried to access the actual language link in the article, it just brought me back to this article.

Regarding the legislation bullet point making water rights subject to Colorado water laws and agreements, the state is already working at diverting water from the Colorado river to the front range so how does that protect the water rights? To trust the Dept. of Interior to honor private property water rights is like allowing the fox into the hen house. Take the example of the BLM requiring a local Ski resort to turn over their water rights in order to continue the lease of the Federal Proprietary right to the property.

Furthermore, public access to the monument was denied during the government shutdown, so I put little faith that they wouldn’t do it again. As we have seen with the BLM land in other parts of the county, they are compelled to restrict access and offer poor if any maintenance.

The bullet points shown in the article do not bring up changes to the access within the monument and any new access to other sensitive areas.

The people of Mesa county should be able to weigh into this decision by our representatives and their appointed committee through the election process. I spoke with Mesa county elections division this morning and found that to add a county wide question to the ballot merely requires the County Commissioners to refer the question to the elections division. That question would be Should the Colorado National Monument be entrusted to the federal National Parks service?

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