Monument’s park status topic of meeting

A first step in upgrading Colorado National Monument to a national park will take place this month when Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., hosts a listening session in Grand Junction.

Udall, who last year broached the idea of a new designation for the monument, said such a change won’t be quick or easy and will require work from the National Park Service, communities in the Grand Valley and other organizations.

Udall’s public meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in the ballroom of the Maverick Student Center at Mesa State College.

Proponents of the idea, which some suggested could result in the monument becoming Colorado Canyons National Park, said the name change would benefit the Grand Valley economy because it would eliminate tourist confusion and give the area a more prominent mark on the map.

Others, however, said they worried park status would have implications for the way the cities in the valley make development and other decisions that might have effects on the monument.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, which supported the 1911 establishment of the monument, has yet to take a position on changing it to a national park.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., whose 3rd Congressional District includes most of the Western Slope, is looking into implications of the change, Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke said.

“We appreciate Sen. Udall’s office doing this, but it’s very important that our congressional representative be a key part of that process,” Schwenke said. “I think we still have a lot of questions. We’re in a holding pattern until we get some information back.”

The West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association said Udall is taking the right approach by gathering information that will allow him to “customize legislation in order to avoid regulatory surprises,” association Executive Director David Ludlam said.

Doing so will “assure adjacent communities that a park designation won’t do anything to put our local economy in park,” Ludlam said.

The monument celebrated its centennial year with a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve.

Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said its is “inspiring to see that Sen. Udall is going to return to the Grand Valley and lead the community’s conversation about the best ways to protect Colorado National Monument and serve the ever increasing numbers of local and long-distance visitors for another 100 years.”


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