All posts by GVR Citizens for a National Park

Colorado National Monument Association Highlights Facts


Make Colorado National Monument
our 60th National Park
by Ginny McBride

Editorial reprinted with permission from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:
What would John do? Should the Colorado National Monument become
America’s 60th national park or remain as it is?
Those of us fully versed in John Otto’s story know his dream was to see
the canyons west of Grand Junction recognized by Congress as a national
park. Instead, in 1911 President Taft created what is now Colorado
National Monument.
One hundred years later, the Colorado National Monument Association is
determined to make Otto’s very real dream come true.Grand Valley
residents may know CNMA exists to support Colorado National Monument
and its scientific, educational and interpretive programs, with the goal of
helping visitors better connect to this rich geologic and recreational gem in
western Colorado. You could say CNMA’s mission is to fulfill John Otto’s
dream — to share the monument’s splendor with the world.
The association believes national park status is the right thing for the
monument and the Grand Valley. Here’s why: 
 National parks and monuments are operated under the same set
of laws, regulations and policies. The federal government (not state
or local governments, as some erroneously believe) has successfully
managed the monument for 101 years and will continue to do so in
the future. 
 Changing the monument’s status to a national park will not drive
changes in air or water quality standards. The monument is a Class
II area under the Clean Air Act. Class I areas include national parks
with more than 6,000 acres, wilderness areas over 5,000 acres and
international parks that existed in 1977. For example, although Great
Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of the Gunnison were monumentsturned national parks, only the wilderness areas that existed in 1977
in those parks classify as Class I areas. 
 The monument’s current boundaries will not change because of
park status. Glade Park residents will retain the court-adjudicated
right of way to the four-mile stretch of Rim Rock Drive from the east
entrance to DS Road. 
 Currently, the majority of Rim Rock Drive traffic represents nonrecreational users accessing Glade Park.   If changing the monument
to a national park causes a 10 percent increase in recreational use,

summer traffic would increase by approximately 52 cars, less than a 

4 percent increase in total traffic. 
 The monument is not too small to be considered a national park.
There are several national parks the same size, or even smaller,
than our monument.These are just some of the facts related to
the monument becoming a national park.
Last week, National Geographic published its Top 10 List of
underappreciated parks. Colorado National Monument was No. 4.
While CNMA is pleased the monument is recognized for its
“spectacular canyons, buttes, spires and other sandstone
formations,” we regret it continues to be overshadowed by other
nearby national parks such as Arches and Canyonlands.
By achieving national park status, the monument will be recognized
by entities like the Rand McNally National Parks Guide and by tour
companies currently bypassing this incredible jewel situated in the
center of a vibrant community and next to a fine regional airport.
Some wonder why the monument deserves to be a national park,
given its small size as compared to Yellowstone or the Grand
Canyon. Here is why: 
 The monument has one of the last remaining intact pinyon juniper woodlands along the Colorado Plateau, with trees over
1,000 years old. 
 Within its boundaries are endemic plants, hanging gardens,
biological soil crust, riparian ecosystems, native grasslands,
sagebrush and shrublands. 
 The monument’s geologic features include Precambrian
basement rocks (1.75 billion years old). 
 The monument is a prime example of “hanging canyons,”
originating not from glaciers, but from faulting that elevated a
block of tough Precambrian rock. 
 Rim Rock Drive, listed on the National Register of Historic
Places, is one of the most spectacular drives in the United
States. It was constructed using manual labor by the Civilian
Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration. It is
a historically significant Depression– era project.
Colorado National Monument is entirely worthy of national park
status. Yet the most important reason is so we may fulfill our roles as
stewards and hosts for this landscape and meet our obligation to
share the monument with the world. A national park will be a source

of pride for our community and for a nation that cherishes its park
The first National Park Service Superintendent, Stephen Mather,
could have been speaking to each of us when he said:
“The parks do not belong to one state or to one section … The
Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national
properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they
belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of
Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming,
and of Arizona … A visit inspires love of country; begets
contentment; engenders pride of possession; contains the
antidote for national restlessness … He is a better citizen with
a keener appreciation of the privilege of living here who has
toured the national parks.”
Join CNMA in supporting the change to park status to fulfill John
Otto’s dream.Visit our website,,
or Send a letter of support to your
congressional representatives. Let’s be No. 60!
Ginny McBride is chairwoman of the Colorado National Monument
Association. She wrote this column on behalf of the association’s
board of directors. 

Josh Penry Says Time has Come For Park Status

penry image

Park status for monument is an idea whose time has come

By Josh Penry
Thursday, March 21, 2013

Courtesy:  Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

The idea of redesignating the Colorado National Monument as a national park has been talked about in coffee shops and boardrooms for a very, very long time.

But while the concept as concept enjoys widespread local support, it has never made it off the drawing board.

Why? For those wanting to grant this western Colorado crown jewel its just due as a national park, the devil’s always been in the details.

What to call it?

How to maintain historic access for adjacent residents, ranchers and recreationalists?

How to tightly structure the law so that the Park Service and the Environmental Protection Agency don’t manipulate it?

Every national park designated through the annals of American history has confronted and overcome similarly critical issues.

But for whatever reason, these and other questions have remained unsettled with respect to Colorado National Monument. They’ve been the undoing of those advocating park status for this red-rock hunk of God’s best handiwork.

Will this be the year that our community and congressional representatives finally settle these issues, opening the door for the Colorado National Monument to become America’s newest national park?

Let’s hope so. It’s an idea whose time has come.

In our laws and our culture, there is no higher privilege or higher standard for a patch of dirt, rock, forest or mountain than to become a national park.

No ordinary patch of Mother Earth qualifies, either.

Grand Canyon. Grand Teton. Yosemite. They are our collective natural treasures. They speak to our love of God’s creation and our desire to preserve and showcase these extraordinary places in our otherwise ordinary lives.

I’m not going to spend any time describing why the Colorado National Monument is easily on par with the standard of a national park. If you’ve looked over Cold Shivers’ Point on a clear, blue day, you know.

Colorado National Monument is a national treasure already — the sign just doesn’t read national park.

Beyond preserving and showcasing the best that nature has given us, national park status can be an economic engine.  When the uninformed passersby see the sign “national monument,” they can be forgiven for thinking it is a roadside tribute to an old dude who drove a wagon train through here once.

But a national park? RVs come rolling in to see a national park.

These reasons, and many more, explain the desire of many through the decades to remake our Colorado National Monument into a national park.

It’s been more than 100 years now since then-President William Howard Taft established Colorado National Monument with the easy stroke of a foresighted pen.

The national monument designation, as big a deal as it was, was still something of a consolation for 20th century naturalist John Otto, the legendary man who first promoted the idea of making this track of rolling red-rock canyons and jaw-dropping spires a national park.

“I came here last year and found these canyons, and they feel like the heart of the world to me,” Otto said. “I’m going to stay and build trails and promote this place, because it should be a national park.”

But Congress didn’t act on Otto’s idea, and only Congress can create a national park. So Taft did the best he could, invoking the Antiquities Act to designate Colorado National Monument.

A century later, Otto’s words are persuasive, though his dream is unrealized.

How do we finish the job?

First, those who support national park status, say so. Tell Sen. Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton to both listen to local input and actively work to forge consensus.

Once they hear from you, the ball will be in their court to begin methodically working through those devilish details that have trapped our national park in the purgatory of monument status.

How do we protect historic access for the residents of Glade Park? Udall and Tipton should work with Glade Park ranchers and residents to hammer out legislative language that clearly requires exactly that.

How do we keep the EPA from construing the national park designation as an excuse to monkey with industry? Again, leaders in our community, perhaps the Mesa County commissioners and cities of Fruita and Grand Junction, should haul their lawyers into Udall and Tipton’s offices and craft statutory guarantees that keep the EPA at bay.

In 25 and 125 years, our descendants and those of Udall and Tipton will cheer their action and their leadership if they can hammer out agreement and pass national park legislation.

For this great and glorious God-given gift, national park status is an idea whose time has come. Let’s hope this is the year Udall and Tipton can make it happen.

Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.

Palisade City Council, Chamber, Tourism Board Jointly Endorse National Park Plan


February 2013

Grand Valley Region Citizens for a national park are proud to announce that Palisade City Council members have joined forces with the Palisade Chamber of Commerce, and Palisade Tourism Board to offer a joint resolution of support for the proposal to re-designate the Colorado National Monument as a national park.

Members of the Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park made a presentation to Palisade’s City Council members during their Monday, February 11th meeting.   Following the presentation City Council members  voted unanimously to adopt a resolution of support  for the re-designation of  the Colorado National monument to a national park.   Palisade’s City Council later  joined the Palisade Chamber of Commerce and Palisade Tourism Board to issue a joint resolution of support.

The re-designation of a national monument to a national park does not happen without bold leadership and unflagging support at the local, state and Federal level.   This grass roots effort to re-designate the Colorado National Monument represents democracy at it’s best.  We highly encourage everyone to review the facts, ask questions, and if you support the idea of a national park follow the lead once taken by John Otto and now taken up by the cities of Fruita, Grand Junction, Palisade and so many other local organizations,  businesses and citizens  who hope to make a 106 year old dream come true….write a letter of support to Congressman Scott Tipton and Senator Mark Udall.  Three cheers for Palisade’s City Council,  for its Chamber of Commerce and for  its Tourism Board.


Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. —Harry S. Truman


City of Fruita first to embrace re-designation of Colorado National Monument to Park

fruita bike riders

Grand Valley Region Citizens National Park reserves a special place of honor for the Fruita City Council.  In this most recent effort to re-designate the Colorado National Monument a National Park, it was the Fruita City Council who led the way,  as the first local municipality to issue a letter of support.  We believe history will well remember their leadership and support of this historic effort.

The road to national park status has almost never run smoothly, which may explain why over the past 100 plus years only 59 have achieved the coveted status of a national park.  Behind many beloved U.S. national parks you will find the  story of a man or community who worked tirelessly to gain Federal support, sometimes you will also find protagonists who worked equally hard publicly or privately to quash “America’s Best Idea” in their own community.

Here in  the Grand Valley the historic quest to designate our backyard canyons a national park has had many heroes .    John Otto famously declared in 1907, “I came here last year and found these canyons and they feel like the heart of the world to me.   I’m going to stay and build trails and promote this place, because it should be a national park.”   The community overwhelmingly  rallied behind Otto.   Their unflagging  support and the tireless leadership of Otto, The Daily Sentinel and at that time the  Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce convinced President William Howard Taft, in 1911 to designate our canyons,  the Colorado National Monument.    Otto then spent the rest of his life writing letters and contacting legislators to elevate the monument to a national park.

The Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce led a second failed attempt to triple the size of the Colorado National Monument and re-designate it a national park in the 1990’s.    Then,  two years ago a study group comprised of  18 locals was able to lay a series of questions to rest but disbanded without taking a position.    It was during that time (before the formation of  Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park) that  Fruita City officials  looked at the available facts, agreed park status was the best thing for their community and issued an official letter  in favor of  re-designation.  Their leadership should be noted.

The National Park Service has closely evaluated the status of the Colorado National Monument and found it is among the very few which  uniquely qualify for National Park Status.   Moving forward,  the municipalities, organizations, businesses and Grand Valley region citizens who have taken up where John Otto and an inspired community left off should also be remembered and honored for standing up, standing strong  and leading the way.    Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.

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.

Pinnacles National Monument re-designated National Park

pinnacles image

Dear friends and supporters of Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park,

The Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park celebrate from afar  the successful re-designation of Pinnacles National Monument to the nation’s 59th  national park.  Their success fuels our own enthusiasm and endeavors as we continue to put out the facts and gain the unwavering kind of support and leadership  that lifted Pinnacles National Monument to park status.

Pinnacles was in the enviable position of having such stalwart support from its local elected leaders that a citizens group like ours was never necessary to convince residents of the endless benefits a national park can bring.  In fact, San Benito  County Board of Supervisors member Jerry Muenzer was so convinced designating Pinnacles a National Park would help diversify and strengthen their  county’s economy (according to Clerk of the Board Denise Home) that Muenzer traveled all the way to Washington D.C. to lobby for the  national park designation.

It just goes to show that even if something is a very good idea all the way around, it still takes leadership and action to get it done.  We are optimistic knowing Congressman Scott  Tipton weighed in on  Pinnacles  rare uncontested House passage, helping it sail to success even in the midst of a highly charged presidential election.  We congratulate San Benito County on its successful bi-partisan leadership and caring stewardship of a national treasure that will benefit generations to come.  Pinnacles had its own John Otto in Michigan homesteader Schuyler Hain.  Like Otto,  in the 1890’s Hain led countless tours of the Pinnacles area and wrote endless articles  urging its preservation as a national park, he also worked for pennies as its caretaker.

If Hain’s life long dream can come true so can Otto’s.   We  hope every local  Grand Valley resident will jump at this once in a lifetime chance to help create the nation’s 60th national park.

Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park


GJ City Council gives unanimous support to John Otto’s historic dream

john otto on horseback

Dear friends and supporters of Grand Valley Citizens for a National Park.

Culminating two years of discussions,the Grand Junction City Council stepped up to help  lead that charge for economic growth, when it unanimously approved a resolution in support of re-designating the Colorado National Monument as a national park.

On behalf of GVCNP we would like to commend all members of the Grand Junction City Council for their visionary leadership on what we believe is the single most important thing our community can do to strengthen the local and regional  economy, attract cutting edge businesses and high paying jobs,boost tourism, raise the Grand Valley’s national and international profile,  enhance real estate values, and so ensure the protection of our national resource it would take an act of Congress to change its designation or boundaries.   The City of Fruita preceeded Grand Junction with its own resolution of support and we expect other announcements of support to follow in the next few weeks.

GVCNP members will soon make a presentation to Club 20’s Tourism Committee, among others.  We would be happy to make a presentation to your organization or group as well or simply answer questions.   As we endeavor to engage our entire community in this history making effort and add to our rapidly growing base of support from business leaders and citizens we promise to keep you posted every step of the way!

Thank you for your letters of support to our lawmakers.  Please remember to share the sample letter with your family, friends, and colleagues via e-mail or Facebook so everyone who loves our monument will have the opportunity to add their name to this   historic effort and help make the Colorado National Monument America’s 60th National Park.  Below are links to Senator Udall’s and Congressman Tipton’s comment page where you can cut then paste your letter.

Bringing the nation’s 60th national park to our valley, simply put, is a really, really big deal.  John Otto’s blood, sweat and tears laid the groundwork for this trail we’re on, thank you for helping to build the next link, and giving generations to come a solid path to follow.



Grand Valley Region Citizen’s for a National Park