A fresh push for national park

Backers of promoting Colorado National Monument to a national park are building a case that the Grand Valley wants a change in the status of the spires, cliffs and canyons.

The just-minted Grand Valley Citizens for a National Park has collected resolutions of support from the Grand Junction and Fruita city councils and took  steps to garnering support from Club 20, the Western Slope lobbying and promotional organization, on February 20th.

The effort also got a show of conditional support and advice from a Glade Park rancher who has for decades fended off efforts to expand the monument.

“I would support that bill” if it cemented the right of people to drive Monument Road to the Glade Park cutoff, protect Fruita’s access to a water line and include other protections”, Warren Gore said.

He won’t lead the effort for a park, but he wants to participate in the drafting of legislation should it be introduced, Gore said.

“I definitely want to have eyes” on any legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., or U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., whose 3rd Congressional District includes the monument, Gore said.

Gore served as a co-chairman of a committee established by Tipton and Udall to discern the sense of Grand Valley residents on the issue.

The committee, made up of supporters and opponents of a change in status, found a highly divided populace after 18 months of meetings and disbanded last year without making a recommendation.

Grand Valley Citizens for a National Park has none of that ambivalence.

“It’s a really, really big deal to land a national park,” said Terri Chappell, a spokeswoman for the organization, citing several of the economic advantages that backers hope to see with an upgrade in status.

So far, 360 businesses have signed up to support the effort to achieve park status, Chappell said.

Making the monument a national park “is critical to stabilizing the local economy,” she said.

Chappell and Jamie Lummis urged the Club 20 tourism committee to back a resolution of support for the change. The unanimous vote on Friday puts the measure before the full Club 20 board next month.

As with Gore, Grand Valley Citizens for a National Park wants to make sure any legislation contains provisions sought by skeptics worried about Federal overreach from a national park, as well as provisions intended to give local interests greater say in its operations.

The draft resolution offered to Club 20 by Grand Valley Citizens for a National Park calls for preservation of the status quo when it comes to Glade Park access, Fruita’s water line and other issues.

It also calls for legislation permitting and encouraging “at least two major bicycling events on an annual basis” to “better engage the public with the new national park.”

The National Park Service has rebuffed attempts by Grand Valley backers of professional bike races to conduct races over the 23 miles of Rim Rock Road, saying that such events are outside the mission of the monument.