Parks chief says no to monument bicycle race
National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis denied a revised request Monday to stage part of the Quiznos Pro Challenge Bike Race on Colorado National Monument next year.
Jarvis said in a press release he believes closing the park for the commercial race would negatively affect resources in the monument, block visitors from the area and go against park management policies.
“Federal law and NPS policy restrict commercial activities in national parks to those that are ‘necessary and appropriate’ to park purposes,” Jarvis said. “This bike race is neither necessary nor appropriate in the park. (Colorado National Monument) Superintendent (Joan) Anzelmo made the right call.”
Anzelmo decided three months ago to deny the first request to stage the race in the monument, citing the same reasons as Jarvis. Grand Junction’s Local Organizing Committee for the Quiznos Pro Challenge, made up of 35 community members and a smaller executive committee designed to promote bringing the race here, revised the request based on concerns raised by the National Park Service, according to committee member John Hopkins.
The second request was discussed Friday in Grand Junction at a meeting among committee members, politicians and NPS Intermountain Region Regional Director John Wessels.
Anzelmo said she had Wessels’ support at the meeting, but she was not sure Jarvis would agree.
“I did not know how this would turn out,” Anzelmo said.
She said the decision sends a message cycling is welcome in the monument, just not at a commercial level.
“The good news is that Colorado National Monument will always welcome cyclists that are here to ride the road individually. We’ll continue to issue permits for noncommercial, nonprofit cycling tours,” she said.
Hopkins said he’s “very disappointed” in Jarvis’ decision, but he expects the committee will regroup this week or next week and decide whether to try again to host a leg of Quiznos in the monument or to seek another local venue for the race.
“I think there are still options for us in a variety of ways,” Hopkins said. “We still have plenty of options in terms of venues. We just have to decide what path we want to take going forward.”
David Nimkin, southwest regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, said he was pleased by the announcement.
“We applaud the decision of Superintendent Joan Anzelmo and the National Park Service,” Nimkin said. “Holding a commercial event at Colorado National Monument would have set a dangerous precedent. We must draw the line at commercializing our national parks to ensure they remain protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy.”