National Park Community Draft Bill (complete draft)

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has printed a full copy of the community written draft bill to elevate the Colorado National Monument to the nation’s 60th National Park.   The draft was entirely created by the local  five member committee Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton appointed back in June.   Committee members include:  Glade Park Rancher Warren Gore, Michael Burke of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Ginny McBride of the Colorado National Monument Association, former Congressional staffer Kristi Pollard, and local business owner and cyclist Jamie Lummis.   Reps. Udall and Tipton released the committee’s draft bill, the first week of April  2014.    We urge all Coloradans to check the full draft provided in the link or review the  bullet points below.    We have a multitude of local leaders, business owners organizations and residents to thank for moving this effort forward to this critical point of draft legislation.  Now, that we’re here your comments are vital to seeing the Monument through to  official national park legislation within the current session.    At the bottom of this page you’ll find direct links to web portals Congressman Tipton and Senator Udall set up specifically to hear feed back and support from locals.  If they receive overwhelming support via these portals we believe the Colorado National Monument will take its rightful place among America’s 59 national parks.  Please take just a moment to help make this happen by contacting a representative and telling them you support making John Otto’s life long dream of a national park finally come true in 2014.

national park community draft official

 

KEY POINTS IN THE DRAFT PLAN

■  The boundaries of Rim Rock Canyons National Park are the same as Colorado National Monument.

■ Existing rights of way are unaffected; Glade Park access is protected. No federal fund can be used unless they were appropriated before establishment of the park.

■  No buffer zone or protective perimeter around the park

■  The air quality designation for the park will remain Class II under Section 162(b) of the Clean Air Act. It could only change at the request of Mesa County and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

■  Water rights are unaffected

■  Rim Rock Canyons National Park Advisory Committee established with 15 members representing local government, business and industry and Southern Ute Tribe.

■  Memorial to people who built Rim Rock Drive

CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE:

SENATOR MARK UDALL:

http://www.markudall.senate.gov/?p=form&id=88

CONGRESSMAN SCOTT TIPTON:

http://tipton.house.gov/colorado-national-monument-comments#overlay-context=user

 

Draft Bill to Elevate Monument to National Park Released

Printed with express permission of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel  and with thanks to Dean Humphry and Gary Harmon.
 
New park, new name?

Plan elevates Monument to next level


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Dean Humphrey

CNM and the S curves on Rimrock Drive just above the tunnel on the east side.


By Gary Harmon
Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rim Rock Canyons National Park would become the nation’s 60th park under legislation proposed by a five-member panel charged with drawing up a measure to upgrade the status of Colorado National Monument.

The proposed legislation, summarized in several bullet points on a web page released by federal legislators, mirrors many of the concerns raised about park status during more than a year of study by another committee, including preserving the existing air quality classification of Colorado National Monument.

It also would keep the current boundaries and prohibit the establishment of buffer zones around the 20,000-acre monument, which is bordered by Fruita, Grand Junction and Glade Park.

The Daily Sentinel has obtained a copy of the proposed legislation drafted by a committee of Grand Valley residents. It can be viewed at GJSentinel.com

Existing access for Glade Park residents on the east end of Rim Rock Drive would be preserved in the legislation, which also would allow the National Park Service to build a bypass at the east entrance for Glade Park residents and commercial vehicles.

While the proposal addresses many of the concerns raised over decades of discussion about park status, a member of the five-member committee that drafted it said the proposal doesn’t represent the final word.

“There is nothing in the proposal that we would consider non-negotiable,” said Ginny McBride, who heads the Colorado National Monument Association and is a member of the citizens committee.

That includes the proposed name, McBride said, suggesting that the proposed new moniker was the result of some prolonged discussion.

“Everything in that proposal was the result of discussion and compromise and was based on mutual respect for one another,” McBride said. “The name is an example of that. We listened to what we were hearing from the community and what was important to various perspectives. The name is the result of that discussion.”

The committee was formed at the request of U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., both of whom stressed that no bill has been introduced and that more work is expected.

“The only thing that’s cast in stone are the canyons and spires” of what is now known as Colorado National Monument, Udall said.

Tipton stressed as well that no legislation has been introduced and that none would be without community backing.

“To be clear, I have not drafted a bill in the House of Representatives to change the designation of the Colorado National Monument,” Tipton said in a statement. “I look forward to the community’s comments and ideas on the committee’s recommendations, and will take them into careful consideration as we determine what’s next.”

The committee worked closely with Tipton and Udall staffers in western Colorado and in Washington, D.C., McBride said.

One element of the draft legislation not called out in the summary says Rim Rock National Park couldn’t be used to prevent development in the Grand Valley or other areas.

“The fact that an activity or use on land outside the park can be seen or heard within the park shall not preclude the use or activity outside the boundary of the park,” the draft legislation says.

ADVISORY GROUP PLANNED

The advisory committee envisioned by the draft calls for 15 members to serve staggered three-year terms and represent Mesa County, Grand Junction, Fruita, Palisade, Glade Park, and the Redlands.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association and Southern Ute Tribe also would be represented.

Six other members, who must reside in or near Mesa County, would represent tourism, outdoor recreation and the management and protection of the park’s resources.

Warren Gore, a Glade Park rancher who sat on the committee and has dealt with attempts to enlarge Colorado National Monument for nearly 30 years, said the measure represents an opportunity to halt meddling in the park.

By having Congress designate the monument a national park, “it keeps some president with no ties to Mesa County from doing what President Clinton did in southeast Utah,” Gore said, referring to Bill Clinton’s designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

In addition to McBride and Gore, Kristi Pollard, Jamie Lummis and Michael Burke served on the drafting committee.

Udall and Tipton set no timeline for the introduction of legislation, though Udall did note that he had mentioned a 90- to 120-day comment period when in Grand Junction last month.

“I don’t think we’ve got a firm timetable,” Tipton said. “This is so intimate to Grand Junction and Fruita. We need to be able to see some community support and get some community input.”


Turning the Colorado National Monument into the country’s newest national park has been years in the making.

QUICKREAD

KEY POINTS IN THE DRAFT PLAN

■  The boundaries of Rim Rock Canyons National Park are the same as Colorado National Monument.

■ Existing rights of way are unaffected; Glade Park access is protected. No federal fund can be used unless they were appropriated before establishment of the park.

■  No buffer zone or protective perimeter around the park

■  The air quality designation for the park will remain Class II under Section 162(b) of the Clean Air Act. It could only change at the request of Mesa County and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

■  Water rights are unaffected

■  Rim Rock Canyons National Park Advisory Committee established with 15 members representing local government, business and industry and Southern Ute Tribe.

■  Memorial to people who built Rim Rock Drive

THE ROAD TO NATIONAL PARK STATUS

 

■ 1906 — John Otto is captivated by the sight of canyons and monoliths hewn by eons of erosion of the uplift overlooking the Grand Valley. Otto is inspired to seek designation of the area as a national park.

■ 1911 — President William Howard Taft designates the area as a national monument, fulfilling a portion of Otto’s vision.

■  1911-1987 — Discussion of park status continues, but no bill is drafted.

■  1987 — The National Park Service asks U.S. Rep. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, D-Colo., to support expansion of the monument. The idea got no traction and even earned opposition from the Bureau of Land Management.

■  1997 — Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt restarts the discussion with a visit.

■  1999 — Babbitt proposes several new monuments and the expansion of Colorado National Monument.

■ 2 000 — Congress passes and President Bill Clinton signs legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Scot McInnis, R-Colo., establishing the Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area bordering — but not expanding — Colorado National Monument.

■  2010 — U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., says he wanted to consider the status of Colorado National Monument.

■  2011 — Udall, in a town hall at Colorado Mesa University, calls for park status and says the Grand Valley community could write the legislation designating the monument a park.

■  2012-2013 — A committee of Grand Valley residents meets several times to discuss the merits of park status. The committee disbands without making a recommendation.

■  2013 — Udall and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton appoint a five-member committee to draft a bill that would redesignate the monument while addressing local concerns.

■  2014 — The high points of legislation drafted by the committee are released by Tipton and Udall.

 


 
 

One Year Later, Pinnacles National Park Proves a Success

pinnacles condorThe  arguments a handful of opponents, just over a year ago,  used to try and stop the re-designation of Pinnacles National Monument to a national park,  may sound hauntingly familiar.   ” It will bring too many new rules and regulations!  We don’t need “more” government!  It will tighten air quality restrictions!  It will impact neighboring properties!  It will increase user fees!  We will be “over-run” with tourists!”.

Here at Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park we’ve learned first hand the historic road to  creating America’s  national parks  has always been  fraught with questions, fears and misinformation.  While the majority of cities in America would give anything for the opportunity to tout a national park in their backyard the fact is only a rare few National Monuments are  left in the United States  which actually meet the National Park Service’s increasingly stringent list of qualifications.  Pinnacles National Monument was one.  The Colorado National Monument is another.

Pinnacles National Monument officially gained park status at the beginning of last year thanks to the no less than heroic efforts of   Rep. Sam Farr  (D) California and a contingent of forward thinking leaders from the towns and counties surrounding the former national monument.    At the time local leaders were faced with a desperately struggling economy.  Leaders and residents alike gnashed their teeth and wrung their hands in meeting after meeting over falling sales tax and use revenues.  Police, sheriff, and fire departments anguished over cuts to vital public safety programs while schools made the painful decision to cut teachers and increase class sizes.     In the midst of all that hand wringing, all along, the answer stood no further than than  a glance out any local   office window toward  Pinnacles National Monument.

Pinnacles National Monument like the Colorado National Monument was created because one man in each place found the landscapes  among the most spectacular they had ever seen and spent a lifetime working to protect it.  John Otto is known as the “Father of the Colorado National Monument” for his successful efforts to get it protected as a monument and life’s work to make it a national park. 

For Pinnacles,  it was Schuyler Hain, a homesteader, who arrived in the Pinnacles area from Michigan. During the next twenty years he became known as the “Father of Pinnacles” leading tours up through Bear Valley and into the caves. Hain spoke to groups and wrote articles urging preservation of the area and acted as unofficial caretaker for many years. His efforts proved fruitful with the establishment of Pinnacles as a 2500 acre national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

One year after its official re-designation as a national park nearby communites are reaping the benefits.  Park status in one move recognized their history and the unique geologic and historic value of Pinnacles, gave the area instant national and international recognition and in so doing, boosted the local economy in a tangible way.   Here is the latest article from The Monterey County Herald.

http://www.montereyherald.com/news/ci_24898575/pinnacles-sees-more-visitors-one-year-after-becoming

Colorado National Monument makes Millions, Park Status Would Add More

 

 

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Gretel Daugherty

Deanna Benzschawel of Sheboygan, Wis., admires the view Monday from Cold Shivers Point on Colorado National Monument. Benzschawel was touring the monument with her daughter Leah Cabot, who moved to Grand Junction from Pueblo two weeks ago.

Through boom and bust the Colorado National Monument has been an economic staple of the Grand Valley, right alongside our historic orchards and our growing wine industry.  It’s a place people clearly want to see and yet every single day visitors who fly into our local airport or travel I-70 (particularly people on National Park tours) bypass our monument and valley and miss the unique in the world experiences it offers.  As a community we miss out on sales tax revenues that benefit, not tourism, but  our public schools, public safety, the maintenance of  our roads, bridges and infrastructure in addition to projects we love like the Avalon, Riverfront Project or Las Colonias and Matchett Parks.   
As tax payers we agree the city and county should spend money to promote the Grand Valley and  University and draw businesses through CMU,  the Grand Junction VCB and GJEP.    Many are beginning to realize a national park would help do all three, free, thanks to the instant international and national  exposure that follows national park status.  The March  2014 edition of Sunset Magazine  features a guide to America’s national parks, specifically featuring Rocky Mountain National Park.    Numerous national articles have featured Pinnacles NP  since Congress named it  America’s 59th National Park in January of 2013.  That kind of regular, large-scale publicity,  along with an instant home on Rand McNally maps which only feature national parks is advertising you’d be hard pressed to put  a figure on…and it’s free.  Every day we delay elevating the Colorado National Monument to the status it qualifies for as a national park is a day of wasted opportunity.  
 Congressman Scott Tipton can claim substantial credit for the undeniable  success of Pinnacles NP as he was on the  House committee that awarded it final approval just   last year.  GVR-Citizens for a National Park is so thrilled he is now able to introduce and carry similar legislation for his own voting  district in this current  legislative session and  keep his election night promise to create jobs for Western Colorado.  Thousands of local businesses and employees   are now counting on that promise. 
 
 Back in June of 2013  when Congressman Scott Tipton and Senator Mark Udall announced a local committee would create draft legislation to elevate the Colorado National Monument to a national park , Tipton rightly  told CBS 4in Denver, “It would draw more international visitors, would help the hospitality sector, the service sector, it would help an area where unemployment is too high.”   Mr. Tipton really knows what he’s talking about.    Many people don’t realize that at a very young age Congressman Scott Tipton founded  an impressive  business in Cortez,  selling American Indian pottery.  According to the Wall Street Journal,  Mesa Verde Indian Pottery and Mesa Verde Trading have become some of the best-known pottery firms in southwest Colorado’s Four Corners region .    Mesa Verde National Park  has supported Mr. Tipton’s  family and thousands  more like his for decades catering to the international and national tourists who flock to the World Heritage Site. 
We believe GVR-Citizens for a National Park’s many individual supporters including  Tillie Bishop, Tim Foster, Josh Penry, Warren Gore, Shane King,  Kristie Pollard, Bernie Buescher, Jamie Hamilton, Randall Cupp, Kat Rhein and businesses like Alpine Bank, Home Loan State Bank,  Gateway Canyons Resort,  Benges Shoe store,  Colterris Winery, Grand River Vineyards, CAVE,  Pollux, Bin 707,  Dos Hombres,  Springhill Suites by Marriott, Doubletree by Hilton, and  Haggle of Vendors along with every local municipality, local chambers, tourism boards, bicyclists, hikers and  thousands more residents  as a vital community are more than ready to “pipe up” as Mr. Tipton  suggested to offer the Monument  maximum protection as a national park.  We appreciate that the Congressman and  Senator Udall continue to work so hard to move this process to a quick and successful conclusion.   Our community eagerly awaits the announcement of draft legislation in the next two weeks.
A recent Daily Sentinel editorial points out that the modest 10-percent increase in visitors  it’s estimated  national park status  would bring the Monument over time may not be a panacea to the current fragile economic recovery in the Grand Valley… but there’s no question it would help.  If Pinnacles National Park in California,  Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park or Great Sand Dunes National Park here in Colorado are any gauge, it’s clear,  park status will finally  recognize the Monument’s history and qualifications, offer a measurable economic benefit  and  best of all, greatest protection of the pristine nature and  solitude we all cherish.
 
The article  below ,by Gary Harmon, ran in the  Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Tuesday, March 4 ,  2014.  We reprint it here along with photo (above) by photographer  Gretel Daugherty with the express permission of and thanks to the publisher.
 
 
 

Study: Scenery is greenery

Monument generated $26.5M in single year

 

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Staff
 

By Gary Harmon
Monday, March 3, 2014

Colorado National Monument generated more than $26.5 million in economic activity in the Grand Valley in 2012, a National Park Service study released Monday said.

Another study released the same day said the 16-day government shutdown cost gateway communities near national parks, such as Fruita and Grand Junction, more than $414 million in visitor spending.

The shutdown study didn’t single out the effects on Colorado National Monument of the closure of the parks, but it did peg overall attendance in 2013 at a little more than 409,000, about 45,000 less than the level of visitation the Park Service logged in 2012.

The 2012 visitation figure reflected local efforts to promote the spires, canyons and red-rock walls of the 20,000-acre monument overlooking the Grand Valley, said Barbara Bowman, manager of the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau.

“It demonstrates the power of having a unit of the National Park Service in your back yard,” Bowman said. “We’ve worked hard to promote the monument.”

The back of Bowman’s business card, in fact, shows an iconic photograph of the monument. The back of the business card that Bowman’s boss, Debbie Kovalik, carries shows the wine country of Palisade. Kovalik is the director of economic, convention, and visitor services for Grand Junction.

Even though the VCB leans heavily on the description of the valley as “Colorado’s wine country,” “We always lead with the monument,” Bowman said.

If the monument were to be designated a national park, it might be able to capture a significant international market, Bowman said, noting that 26 international tours a year arrive at Grand Junction Regional Airport and take buses directly to national parks in Utah without stopping to take in the monument that overlooks their route through the Grand Valley.

The monument also supports 356 jobs in the Grand Valley, the Park Service report said.

Nationwide, Park Service venues, including parks, monuments, battlefields, historic sites and other locations, generate $26.75 billion, the report said.

It also highlighted direct spending of $14.7 billion by 283 million visitors in communities within 60 miles of park sites.

Overall, the Park Service generates $10 for every $1 spent on the agency, according to the peer-reviewed report drafted by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Interior Department officials noted that economists with the survey were given the task of gauging the economic effects of Park Service venues after the author of previous reports died. Direct comparisons between the 2012 and previous years’ surveys aren’t directly comparable because of the different methodologies, officials said.

 

Below  are links to the  March 2014 issue of Sunset Magazine  featuring a national park guide and several recent articles on the newly named Pinnacles National Park.

 
 
Americas_best_idea

Colorado National Monument to National Park Gains Ground

 

Below is the latest Daily Sentinel article, by Gary Harmon and photographs by the talented Chris Tomlinson (reprinted with the Publisher’s express permission) regarding national park status.  Our sources tell us the 5 member committee Congressman Scott Tipton and Senator Mark Udall  appointed has signed off on final draft legislation and that draft is currently under review.  Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park can not thank  the committee and everyone who has signed the recent petition and shared it with family and friends enough.   Nor is it possible to express the depth of our  appreciation to the many local leaders, businesses and organizations who took the time to study this issue and weigh in with full support.  We are closer to national park status than at any time in the past 107 years when John Otto submitted the first petition for a national park.  We fully believe Congressman Scott Tipton and Senator Mark Udall will not fail the Grand Valley, but will announce official legislation to elevate the Colorado National Monument to a national park.  This is about our history and future and about recognizing our park with the title it deserves.   

 

Caption:  A visitor to Colorado National Monument stops at Independence Monument overlook to make a photograph Friday afternoon.The monument high country is 2,000 feet above the Grand Valley and is 32 square miles large.With the help of John Otto the monument was made a national monument in 1911.Otto was named the park’s caretaker, a job he held until 1927 with a salary of $1 a month.
 A visitor to Colorado National Monument stops at Independence Monument overlook to make a photograph Friday afternoon.The monument high country is 2,000 feet above the Grand Valley and is 32 square miles large.With the help of John Otto the monument was made a national monument in 1911.Otto was named the park’s caretaker, a job he held until 1927 with a salary of $1 a month.

 

 ADVOCATES GET SIGNATURES TO CHANGE MONUMENT TO A NATIONAL PARK By Gary Harmon
Friday, February 7, 2014

Elevating Colorado National Monument to a national park could reverse the economic slide of the Grand Valley, the chairman of the Junior College Baseball World Series said.

“With what I consider the slow death of western Colorado, it’s time to shake things up,” said Jamie Hamilton, who also chairs Home Loan State Bank. “We have to do something to shake up this economy. It’s something to drive additional tourism. It just makes sense.”

Backers of the upgrade of Colorado National Monument to a national park need to pipe up, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said.

He and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., are waiting to hear back from a committee drafted to write a bill promoting Colorado National Monument to a national park.

“Grand Junction, Fruita, Mesa County, we’ve got to see public support for it,” Tipton said Friday.

Tipton’s and Udall’s staffs have had several talks about the monument, but they have yet to see the bill drafted by the committee.

“We’ve heard they are making progress and we’re hoping to see the fruits of their work,” Udall spokesman Mike Saccone said.

An online petition, meanwhile, has topped 500 signatures in favor of a national park and signatures are being collected at several locations in downtown Grand Junction, and elsewhere.

Signatures of the online petition range from as far away as Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in a recent addition to signers representing several states, from California to Illinois.

The petition is at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/make-the-colorado-national-monument-the-nation-s-60th-n.html.

Udall made a promotion of the monument one of his first priorities in 2010, when he called for national park status for the monument in his first visit to Grand Junction as a newly elected senator.

As chairman of the Senate subcommittee on national parks, Udall is in a position to press a bill forward.

Udall and Tipton last year appointed a five-member committee to draft a measure that would give the 20,000-acre monument national park status and they had hoped to have legislation prepared by January.

 

 

Call for National Park Legislation by March

The Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau asked  Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park  to update their board  Tuesday, December 10, 2013 on the forward  status of the national park.  This was the update and call to action:

“Back in June of 2013  U.S.  Senator Mark Udall and U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton, stood,  literally arm in arm,   with Independence rock and a perfect Colorado blue sky  frameless behind them  to announce something almost unprecedented.   They had appointed a five member committee of local citizens  to draft community driven legislation to elevate the Colorado National Monument to a national park.  At the time U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton rightly  told CBS4 in Denver ‘It would draw more international visitors, would help the hospitality sector, the service sector, it would help an area where unemployment is too high.’

The goal at that time  was to complete the  draft legislation by August.  It’s December now, so a little bit behind schedule but then again, appropriate because this is the holiday season and there is no greater gift our community could receive than a national park.

It was not too long ago,  that very exceptional group of people—the committee of five–  handed legislators their initial draft,  after investing an entire summer’s worth of considerable thought, constructive discussion and personal time away from work and family.  Since then, Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Tipton have done more than their due diligence to put that legislation under critical review in Washington D.C..

Those of us with Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park  would like to offer sincerest thanks to the appointed  committee of five  who duly laid aside any political or private agendas to put the Grand Valley community and our magnificent canyons first.    Glade Park rancher Warren Gore, Kristi Pollard whose experience regarding oil and gas concerns was invaluable,  to Michael Burke of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce,  to Jamie Lummis, of Moody’s Insurance who is also a member of GJEP and represented  the local cycling community, and to Ginny McBride who always faithfully represents the Colorado National Monument.  The committee is now arranging to meet in just days  to take a final look at the legislation, review and revise and then make it available to the public.

U.S.  Rep.  Scott Tipton and  U.S. Rep. Mark  Udall share an enormous concern that the Grand Valley continues to struggle economically while eastern Colorado continues to grow and prosper.   I can only assure you they have been working extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure our community driven draft legislation undergoes a meticulous review by their staff, so that when it reaches their committee’s for final  review, it will have every chance of successful passage, just as Pinnacles National Park,  Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park passed before it.

U.S. Rep. Mark Udall’s father first began his family legacy  of preservation by helping to create some fantastic  national park lands in Utah.   Mr. Udall  will continue that family legacy with the Colorado National Monument  to national park proposal and others to create national monuments.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton’s family knows better than most the economic impact of a national park.  Tipton founded  an impressive  business in Cortez decades ago,  selling American Indian pottery.  According to the Wall Street Journal,  Mesa Verde Indian Pottery and Mesa Verde Trading have become some of the best-known pottery firms in southwest Colorado’s Four Corners region .    Mesa Verde National Park  has supported Mr. Tipton’s  family and thousands  more like his for decades catering to the international and national tourists who flock to the World Heritage Site.

Also, when towns around Pinnacles National Monument were suffering an enormous economic downturn, their communities lobbied Washington extensively trying to persuade them to grant a long time dream of a national park.   Mr. Tipton was on the committee that approved  the elevation of Pinnacles National Monument to a national park and helped address that area’s economic crisis.  One year after it’s designation Pinnacles  has seen a 33 percent increase in visitors which equated to an additional 90 thousand visitors this year over last.   Today Mr. Tipton  has the chance to do the same here in Mesa County, for  our canyons, our residents and  our businesses in  his very  own district.

Today  in those California towns near Pinnacles National Park (as in Montrose near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park) the immediate international recognition, branding,  and foreign tourism has become a vital part of healing a stagnant economy.    The same is true to our south in Montrose.  When local leaders there  work to recruit new business Jenny Sopsic,  Executive Director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce  tell me the national park is their number one asset.   Montrose sales and use tax revenues, along with lodging tax revenues (unlike Mesa County) are up and growing.   The county and city have attracted so many big box and smaller new businesses Montrose residents who used to  regularly shop in our town and visit our mall during the holidays…according to Sopsic now stay in Montrose to shop.

You’ve read the latest statistics showing lodging tax and total sales and tax revenues are down in Mesa County,  that  our foreclosure rate remains the second highest of Colorado’s 12 metro areas, second only to Pueblo.   Mesa County unemployment still hovers near 8 percent.   You’ve read about the cuts to the much loved  Riverfront Project and GJEP and public safety and other vital programs we care about.    In the first week of December (2013) the Grand Junction Chamber  of Commerce also  released  this  Economic Survey for the year 2013:

 

1.   72 percent of  250 respondents  still view the local economy as weak or extremely weak, not a significant change from last year.

 

2.  41 percent will continue to delay capital investments for the next six months because  of the economy.

3.   14 percent expect to cut some employees.

 

4.  29 percent are now less optimistic than last year.

 

And most telling of all:

 

5.   49 percent believe it will be 2015 or later before we see the economy BEGIN to recover.

 

 

It’s fully within the realm of possibility, once the appointed local committee releases their draft legislation,  our representatives could use their expertise to  officially introduce this legislation after the January session begins and with due diligence put it before the two deciding committees to which they belong before April and spring thaw in the rockies.

While we deeply respect the measured, entirely  community driven and highly thorough approach our legislators have taken, after 107 years of on again, off again  discussion and exhaustive review within our community, we believe our  representatives have all the information they need to move forward.   Our community has waited long enough.  Now, that hard won draft legislation exists we call on Senator Udall and Congressman Tipton to act with a sense of urgency to introduce official legislation to elevate our monument to a national park in the upcoming session.

There is indisputable  historic community precedent for this effort.   Unlike the vast majority of U.S.  regions who would love to have a national park,  the Colorado National Monument  meets every exacting requirement for park status.  Those are the top reasons the CNM should be elevated to a national park but  as numerous realtors, builders, restaurant, hotel,  and winery owners anticipating park status tell us,  the instant national and international exposure that comes with park status would also help lift  them and our entire economy out of the current morass of a lingering recession.  Not just  the Grand Valley  but  all of the struggling Western Colorado towns surrounding us  would benefit from increased  tourism.

Per the VCB’s request, I’ve written a letter your  members can forward to  our representatives asking them  to act with urgency, foresight and leadership and introduce legislation in the current session.

Representative Scott Tipton and  Senator Mark Udall together have led the Grand Valley community  on this journey for three long years now.  Two committees and reams of positive data later,   it’s  time to get it done.   Doing so will  ensure that during their limited time in office, both men leave a lasting  legacy sure to recognize and protect a magnificent landscape and  at the same time positively  benefit  generations of residents and businesses for years  to come.”

Legislation to Upgrade CNM to National Park may come in January

TIPTON UDALL COKE BOTTLES PIC

Measure to upgrade monument to park may come in January:

Article re-printed with  thanks to reporter Gary Harmon  and permission from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

By Gary Harmon

 

Legislation to upgrade Colorado National Monument to a national park could be  introduced as soon as January, supporters of the move said Tuesday, hailing the prospect as a much needed economic boon.   “We could be a shining star” in the regional economic picture iwth the prosepect of a national park overlooking the Grand Valley, said Theresa High, owner of High Country Orchards and Colterris winery, both in Palisade.

With the prospect ofa bill approaching, High and Terri Chappell urged the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau board on Wednesday to gather support fromt he tourism industry for the effort.  Chappell ticked off a series of bleak economic indicators for the Grand Valley, highlighting a finding that 49 percent of respondents to a Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce survey said they didn’t anticipate economic improvements before 2015.

Promoting the 20-thousand acre Colorado National Monument to a national park could reverse much of that pessimism, Chappell said.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton,  R-Colo., and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., this summer appointed a five member committee to draft a bill and that committee’s work is nearly done, Chappell said.

“When people in our town hear the detail (in the bill) they’re going to be extremely gratified by the work of the committee, ”  Chappell said.

Glade Park access was a sticking point residents voiced amid fears that national park status could jeaopardize their ability to use Rim Rock Drive to reach DS Road from the east entrance of the park.

Congressional sources said the staffs of Tipton and Udall are to get together this week to discuss the measure.

With the prospect of a bill approaching, tourism and travel promotin organizations need only to be notified to gear up support for the bill, Barbara Bowman, manager of teh VCB, said.  “They will step forward on our behalf.”.  Bowman said.

Look Who’s Talking…

High Country News recently allowed two contributors to comment on national park status for the Colorado National Monument.  While Charles Quimby’s statements were issued as a “con” in comments after he states that he has not said the monument should NOT (his emphasis) be a national park.  We’re so glad!  Below is a link to those articles.  I should say we always appreciate the opportunity to address the facts regarding this issue.   While we fully disagree with Quimby’s  arguments for reasons stated in comments below the article, we absolutely support his right to express his opinion.

 

http://www.hcn.org/wotr/pro-colorado-national-monument-should-become-a-national-park

http://www.hcn.org/wotr/con-colorado-national-monument-should-not-become-a-national-park

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151727359925050&set=a.180692485049.162811.26830095049&type=3&theater

Help the Colorado National Monument Win 100 Grand

Coca Cola is running a contest that could make a national park unit 100-thousand dollars richer!  The Colorado National Monument is the natural choice because we are the only park with the “real thing”… red rock coke bottles!  Vote here and take note,  if you read close there are ways you can get extra votes for your park.  Spread the word!coke bottles

https://parks.livepositively.com/parks/index.html#

Pinnacles National Park Rocking to Success

The following article appeared May 31, 2013 in USA Today.  You can find it in full  at the following link.  As we have said would be the case for the Colorado National Monument should it be re-designated as a national park, no rules or regulations regarding Pinnacles have changed, simply the name.  But! Because of the name change new tourists are finding their way to Pinnacles and helping local wineries and the economy in general as they explore the nation’s 59th national park and it’s surrounding towns.  Pinnacles was officially named a national park in January.  If the Colorado National Monument is re-designated it would become the nation’s 60th national park.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2013/05/30/pinnacles-national-park-is-ready-to-rock/2374707/

 

pinnacles rocks article

 

Welcome to Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park