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SAVING THE VIETNAMESE ORPHANS
LITTLE BIRD DOG AND THE BIG SHIP
May 20, 2013
Homes, farming operations, and indeed everything within the “view shed” of this magical mesa may be changed forever.
The Colorado National Monument, established in 1907, abuts the Southwestern corner of the Grand Valley, my home in Western Colorado. The Monument is 32 square miles of sandstone carved into sheer cliffs and dramatic canyons by epochs of erosion and seismic activity. It’s pink, white, and gray sandstone strata are delicious to behold and offer unique opportunities for motor tourists, bikers, and hikers. It’s by ways consist of one main 22 mile road that loops the entire monument, and numerous foot trails and climbing areas. Independence Rock is its most recognizable feature, jutting hundreds of feet from the canyon floor, a stubborn remnant of the erosion that claimed the stone that once connected it to the surrounding mesa.
The Colorado National Monument is a beautiful place to visit, a local treasure, and the backyard of hundreds of residential homes and small farming operations. Those homes, farming operations, and indeed everything within the “view shed” of this magical mesa may be changed forever.
A United States Senator from Colorado, Democrat Mark Udall, is pressuring his compatriot, United States Congressman, Republican Scott Tipton, from Colorado’s third District, to join him in introducing a bill that would change the Colorado National Monument to a National Park. Udall purports that since the National Park Service now oversees its upkeep and other concerns that there would be no increased interference from the Federal Government should it become a National Park. Scott McInnis, former United States Congressman and gubernatorial candidate, also from Colorado’s third District, relates a very different perspective on the potential impact of having a National Park that is literally in the backyards of established farms and neighborhoods. McInnis is a veteran of the process required to designate and name a national park. He was instrumental in the creation of Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
In a conversation with Representative McInnis, he expressed the following concerns related to changing the designation from a national monument to a national park so near developed neighborhoods, farms, and a medium-sized city.
- Although national monuments and national parks are regulated by the Federal Government, national parks are managed far more extensively than monuments. National parks are considered the “crowning jewels” of the Park Service and subject to more expansive regulations.
- The “view shed” is a major consideration in locating a national park near populated areas. This is the leverage the Park Service has in determining that anything within the “view” of the potential national park should actually become a part of it. This could include the regulation of commercial and residential development within sight of the park, smoke from fields when farmers burn them off in the spring and fall, and light “pollution” considerations which could lead to the regulation of the amount of candle power residences, or a city a mile or so in the distance, can display at night.
- The natural appeal of a national park brings with it increased traffic. It is theorized that the traffic generated would be far higher than the capacity of the single road that currently serves the Colorado National Monument, its surrounding neighborhoods, and the vast farming community on top of its mesa, Glade Park. People wishing to access the area may be limited in their ability to use private vehicles, and subject to fees, or the necessity of using shuttles to travel back and forth.
- Glade Park is a small township at the top of the monument. It is the home of thousands of acres of farm and grazing land, a fire department, post office, and store. Several camping, fishing, and swimming areas are also located in and near Glade Park. The primary access road to Glade Park cuts through the eastern end of the Monument. When the Colorado National Monument was first created, the residents of Glade Park had to sue the National Park Service in a court of law in order to win the right to freely access the road to their homes and farms without having to pay a fee. It is likely that with the increased traffic and the imposition of stricter regulations if it is designated a national park, that residents of and visitors to Glade Park would have to obtain special permits to use the road, or pay the entrance fee. This would be a huge burden on the population of Glade Park as well as teachers, friends, relatives and other local residents who make regular trips there for myriad reasons.
- Several small orchards, cow pastures, horse operations, and other private agricultural outfits currently abut the Colorado National Monument on the west end of the Grand Valley. Many of them use chemicals and/or pesticides for their crops. They must burn off their field stubble in the fall and the weeds in the spring. The increasing use of Eminent Domain by government at all levels puts these small farms and businesses at very high risk should they find themselves with a National Park immediately across their fence.
- The Colorado National Monument is already considered an “unfriendly neighbor” because of the limitations placed on access and use, such as a ban on bike races on the road looping it, and a ban on dogs, even when leashed. As a national park it is certain that it would be even less friendly than it is now.
This region of Colorado is tourism-rich. Dinosaur Diamond, the Colorado River, mountains, deserts, canyons, and quick access to literally hundreds of busy recreational areas, saturate the calendars of even hard-core local enthusiasts. One of the arguments FOR making our treasured Monument into a National Park is the increased revenue from tourism. Unlike most other national parks, however, the Colorado National Monument is the backyard of suburban and semi-rural neighborhoods. Increased interference from a federal government which has already proven itself to be hostile to private property owners, and pretty much everyone else, will almost certainly lead to unintended and negative consequences to residents of Mesa County. I would encourage everyone who reads this to call Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton and ask them to please just say NO! to another national park.
Coloradans, call toll-free:
Hart Office Building Suite SH-730
Washington, D.C. 20510
Grand Junction office
225 North 5th St., Suite 702
Grand Junction, CO 81501
Phone: (970) 241-2499
218 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4761
by Marjorie Haun 5/20/13
Tags: Colorado National Monument, eminent domain, federal government, Mark Udall, National Park, national park service, regulations, restrictions, Scott McInnis, Scott Tipton, tourism