Locals chiming in on monument status
The biggest advantages to upgrading the status of Colorado National Monument to a national park are the opportunities to increase the region’s visibility and recognize the monument’s unique features.
The biggest drawbacks are the potential for restrictions on traffic movement and possible limitations on people’s abilities to use the monument.
Those are the first findings from a survey of Grand Valley residents about their reactions to the possibility of changing the monument to a national park.
More than 150 people filled in the survey as of Monday, the second full day it was online. The largest number of responses, 34 percent, came from the 81507 ZIP code, which includes the Redlands directly below the monument and lands to the south.
The ZIP code providing the next-largest response, 11 percent, was 81506. ZIP code 81523, which includes Glade Park, accounted for 4 percent of the response.
The most attractive reason for seeking an improvement in park status was higher visibility and an improved image for the region, chosen by 41 percent of respondents. Thirty-one percent, meanwhile, said “nothing at all” excited them about the proposal.
The top worry was the potential of restrictions on traffic as a result of more vehicles on the roads, including motor coaches and recreational vehicles.
Supporters of a change cited the potential of park status to improve the Grand Valley economy and the need for the towering pinnacles and hanging valleys to be better known across the country.
“The Colo Nat. Monument is so much more impressive than Garden of the Gods that (it) saddens me that people don’t know about our awesome land,” one respondent wrote.
“More tourism means more dollars,” wrote another. “I fully support turning the monument into a national park.”
Another respondent confessed to being torn by the proposal, calling it a “good news/bad news scenario” including fears it might be “loved” to death. “But I know the local business needs the increased tourism.”
Another respondent paid homage to the desire of John Otto, who lobbied a century ago for the land to be set aside as a national park, but went on to note “I feel that ‘if you pave paradise and put up a parking lot’ (to paraphrase a song) we will pay dearly for the increased traffic congestion on the road and in the already too small parking areas.”
Some said the change most needed was to the name of the monument, not necessarily its status, while others said it should be expanded as a park to include lands now managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.
The committee studying whether to seek a status change will use the results of the survey to plan open houses across the Grand Valley. A copy of its findings so far was published Sunday in The Daily Sentinel.