There are literally hundreds of studies and data verifying the positive impact of national parks on gateway cities.  These are just some of the compelling facts we and a recent study group found regarding a transition from national monument to national park.

Our extensive research leaves us more convinced than ever that the historic re-designation of the Colorado National Monument to our Nation’s 60th national park will offer our valley unprecedented  educational  and economic opportunities and at the same time ensure our ancient canyons are so well protected it would take an act of Congress to change its designation or boundaries.

It’s an exciting prospect for everyone involved and one we’re entirely convinced local  Grand Valley residents, business owners and  organizations will enthusiastically sign on to once they know all the facts.

Will creating a national park impact new or existing industries?

Some have expressed concerns regarding view sheds and/or NEPA regulations should the Colorado National Monument be re-designated as a national park. National monuments and national parks are run under the exact same rules and regulations.  The only difference is in name.  Any potential issues would be handled the same regardless of whether the Colorado National Monument remains a monument or is re-designated as a national park.

That said, our valley currently has numerous operating industries and none have been negatively impacted by the presence or management of the Colorado National Monument.   Air quality status would remain a class 2 with re-designation to a national park.  There are no inholdings or businesses which operate within the national monument boundaries so none would be impacted.


Delta County tourism officials tell us that following the re-designation of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to a national park a gravel pit was built less than 30 miles from the national park with no impact or issues.  Numerous mines and industry also continue uninterrupted in the Paonia area.  At the same time wineries, orchards and hotels in the area have greatly benefited  from park status and sales tax and use revenues are up 2 percent in Delta county and Montrose predicts sales tax and use revenues to rise  4 percent this year.

Industry has not been hampered  by national park status elsewhere either.  Drilling for oil and gas is,  in fact, currently happening inside of at least 4 national park units…Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico, Canyonlands of the Ancients (holds the largest CO2 deposit in North America, 80 percent is leased for drilling,  with numerous wells and more than 190 miles of oil and gas dirt roads.  It is also open to grazing.  Glen Canyon is also open to drilling along with Big Cypress National Park.

Currently, 52 of the nations 400 national park units have pending oil and gas leases to drill.   Numerous quarries also operate within clear view and in some cases immediately on the border of national parks.


Learn more about NEPA rules and regulations here:


Would re-designation to a national park change the way the current national monument is managed?

No. National Parks are managed under the very same set of rules and regulations as a national monument. Our resource as a national park would be run exactly the same way it has been run as a national monument.

The change in designation does not change the park’s status, management, or purpose. Congress specified in the 1970General Authorities Act and the 1978 Redwood Act[39] that all units of the National Park System are to be treated on equal status, regardless of title.   An example of this is Pinnacles National monument which has undergone no management changes (other than title) following it’s re-designation as the nation’s 59th national park.


Would any water rights be impacted by the re-designation to a national park?

No. There are no water sources inherent to the national monument and no water rights (private or those belonging to Fruita, Grand Junction or Mesa County) would be impacted.

Is it true the re-designation to a national park could impact the city of Fruita’s ability to utilize an old water pipeline that runs from a Glade Park reservoir to the town of Fruita?

No. Though a water pipeline built in the early 1900’s to pipe water from Glade Park reservoirs to the town of Fruita has been raised as an issue, further research lays that controversy to rest. Some time ago the pipeline was determined in very poor repair and any intended measures to access and fix it deemed  prohibitive because of enormous costs, and an extensive Federal permitting and remediation process. Further,  while the City of Fruita has not legally ceded it’s rights to the pipeline,  a vast array of  legal and liability issues well researched by the City of Fruita and National Monument legal staff make it highly doubtful this will arise as a future issue.  The City of Fruita has explored other viable delivery and leasing options in regards to utilizing  its Pinion Mesa water rights should the need arise.   The City of Fruita was among the first to issue a letter in support of re-designating the Colorado National Monument as a National Park.

Would the re-designation to national park lead to more strict air regulations?

No. All national parks created before 1977 were designated class 1 areas to preserve and protect air quality. Since 1977, all national parks have been designated class 2 areas. The Colorado National Monument has been and is currently designated, a less restrictive class 2 area. The designation to national park status would in no way serve as a trigger for the federal government to re-designate this federal resource to a class 1 air quality area. The National Park Service has determined the area within this specific national resource does not and cannot qualify for the more strict designation of Class 1. This fact would be spelled out within any legislation proposing re-designation from national monument to national park. In addition, no monument or park designated as a Class 2 area after 1977 has ever had the air quality class altered or strengthened to a Class 1. That said, it should be noted state and local officials recently identified a decline in general air quality in the Grand Valley as an issue that must be addressed (regardless of whether our national resource is kept a monument or re-designated as a national park). That issue is distinctly separate from creating a national park and entirely beyond the control and/or scope of our Citizens group.

Find more information on air quality at the Colorado National Monument Association’s website. http://www.coloradonma.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/National-Park-Questions-for-CNM-2.11.pdf

I’m concerned a change to park status will lead to traffic issues and overcrowding on the monument.

The recent study commissioned by Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton shows the rise in monument usage traditionally mirrors that of Mesa County growth. The valley tends to grow an average of 2 to 4 percent a year. Long term growth plans are already in place to handle the Grand Valley’s growing population and any possible increase in tourists. It’s estimated over time tourist visits could increase an estimated 10 percent due to re-designation as national park. Currently, the monument is operating at it’s lowest tourist capacity threshold since 1990 and a 10 percent increase is not expected to pose any traffic issues.   Due to the Valley’s  current projected residential and visitor growth resource managers  are already addressing parking and entrance management to accommodate higher usage.   Because of continued growth these are issues that must be dealt with whether the Monument retains it’s current status or is elevated to a national park.

What is the difference between a national park and a national monument?

The Colorado National Monument Association writes that the two classes of units national parks and monuments differ primarily in the reasons for which they are established.

National parks are areas set apart by Congress for the use of the people of the United States generally, because of some outstanding scenic feature or natural phenomena.The principal qualities considered in studying areas for park purposes are their inspirational, educational, and recreational values.

National monuments, on the other hand, are areas preserved by the National Government because they contain objects of historic, prehistoric, or scientific interest. Generally established by presidential proclamation under authority of Congress, occasionally these areas also are established by direct action of Congress. (Source:  NPS)

The recent  change in designation from Pinnacles National  Monument to Pinnacles National Park does not change the park’s management, or purpose.  Congress specified in the 1970General Authorities Act and the 1978 Redwood Act[39] that all units of the National Park System are to be treated on equal status, regardless of title.   ( Source:  Wikipedia)

What will the re-designation to a national park cost local taxpayers?

Of course, Americans as a whole have shouldered much of the cost park fees don’t cover to operate and maintain our national monument, since 1916. Astonishingly, the cost to re-designate the national monument to a national park and gain a coveted and instantly recognizable brand is negligible (estimated at less than 10-thousand dollars), mainly involving some signage changes which will be covered for the most part by the Colorado Department of Transportation and in part by the National Park Service.  In other words re-designation would come to local taxpayers virtually free.

Will re-designation to a national park trigger more strict regulation of light pollution?

No. There will be no new  light restriction provisions as a national park. Regulations regarding light pollution will remain the same as they are under current management as a national monument.

Will re-designation impact traditional access for Glade Park commuters along the 4-mile stretch of Rim Rock Drive from the Park’s east entrance?

No. Access adjudicated for Glade Park residents as a national monument will remain the same as a national park.  This will be included in any legislation to create a national park.

Would special events that have used the Monument in the past for non-vehicle use, such as cycling, be allowed the same use if park status was attained?

As per Colorado National Monument Association, special event requests are evaluated on a case by case basis under the criteria of 36 Code of Federal Regulations 36 CFR 2.50 (a) (1), (3), (4), and the 2006 National Park Service Management Policies. These are applied to national monuments and national parks alike. In 2010, Colorado National Monument issued 68 Special Use Permits, including weddings, family reunions, memorial services, Community Hospital’s annual Tour of the Valley cycling event, other cycling events including Ride the Rockies and Tour of Colorado, Mesa State College cycling team’s spring hill climb time trial, Mesa County Technical Search & Rescue Team’s July 4th Independence Monument Climb, Centennial Band Concert and Rim Rock Marathon.  Keep in mind both national parks and national monuments are run under the same guidelines, rules, and regulations.

Would re-designation change the current national monument borders?

No. National park borders will remain the same as those established  for our national monument.

Is it possible activities allowed outside monument borders now will be banned or restricted?

No. All activities currently allowed outside of the national monument’s borders (in Bangs or Mcinnis Canyons for example) would remain the same after re-designation as a national park.

Does Colorado National Monument have sufficient acreage to become a national park?

Yes. The Colorado National Park Association website shows principal qualities considered in studying areas for park status are their inspirational, educational, and recreational values rather than size.

Existing national parks with acreage similar to Colorado National Monument (20,534 acres).

  • Hot Spring National Park, Arkansas – 5,549 acres
  • Virgin Islands National Park, V.I. – 12,680
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio – 18, 440
  •  Colorado National Monument present acreage – 20,534
  • Congaree National Park, South Carolina -25,174
  • Pinnacles National Park  (newly created in 2013)– 27,000
  • Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota – 28,295 acres
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado 30,750 (in 2006) new lands since added
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah – 35,835
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico – 46,766 acres



With numerous trails of varying degrees of difficulty no traveler could explore them all in a day.  It may take a week!  In addition, The Colorado National Monument   serves as a gateway to our entire valley and region, ski resorts, snow boarding  and the astounding Grand Mesa, to area  wineries and orchards,  world class fishing, golf courses, mountain and road biking, riverfront trails, hiking, climbing, rafting, kayaking,  horseback riding,  our unique downtown, and surrounding mountain town retreats, Gateway Canyons,   history and car museums, hot springs,  caves, ATV trails,  snowmobiling,   and miles of trails through BLM.     It would take years for travelers to enjoy all we have to offer but most stay just 5 to 10 days.  Most target National Parks which is why tour groups fly into Grand Junction and  bypass our national monument on their way to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Why not just change the name? Do we really need a national park?

Simply changing the monument’s name as some have suggested will do nothing to attract the thousands of tourists and major tour groups whose itineraries target national parks but ignore monuments like ours.

Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau estimates our area’s losses exceed a million dollars a year simply because we have a “monument” and  not a national park. Studies show the term “ monument” universally conjures simple images of a mere statue or marker. A name change also will not put the Colorado National Monument in Rand McNally maps which only highlight national parks. It’s re-designation as a national park is the only thing that will put the Grand Valley on the “national park map”. The value of that inclusion alone is almost impossible to calculate but it would come to us absolutely free. Designation as a national park would also mean immediate inclusion in numerous books and guides which focus solely on national parks.

As the nation’s 60th national park it would immediately raise the Grand Valley and surrounding region’s profile nationally and internationally, help attract top physicians, university professors and cutting edge businesses that list quality of life (including national parks)as one of the top three reasons to locate or relocate to a specific area. National parks have been shown to increase community health, boost real estate values and improve quality of life. They provide numerous research and grant opportunities and greatly enhance  business recruitment opportunities for areas which also offer a university (think Fort Collins , CSU and Hewlett Packard).

If the Colorado National Monument becomes a national park it would give our region 4 national parks within 2 hours of each other (the other three are Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Arches National Park. We would also have 7 total national parks within close proximity.  With the re-designation of the Colorado National Monument the Grand Junction VCB says we would have the closest cluster of national parks in the country.

Tourism remains among the cleanest industries in the world.  Visitors do not use  schools, or typically require  police, fire or library services.  Tourist dollars do however contribute greatly to funding jobs,  new  city and county infrastructures,  to public safety and schools.  Some tourists return to buy 2nd homes in national park areas where they live part time,  other’s may choose to eventually retire here.  Gunnison, Montrose, Estes Park and Moab have all experienced the steady  positive benefits  of increased tourists, part time residents, and retirees with substantial investment income, along with  steady  well planned growth as opposed to the unplanned frenzies of a boom or devastating economic blow of a bust.  Fewer residents are forced to move away  to find work in down times or commute to other states for work.

Finally,  its current designation as a monument  leaves our monument  area wide open to significant change. The president is empowered to remove a monument’s designation or greatly expand it’s borders without the consent of Congress or local elected officials.   Former President Bill Clinton,  for example,  vastly expanded the Grand Staircase in Utah during the final weeks of his administration.  Designation as a national park, however,  so protects our national treasure it would take an act of congress to change it’s status or borders. Additionally, the re-designation to a national park comes at virtually no cost to local taxpayers.

Is the re-designation of our national monument to a national park just about economic benefit?

No.   Convincing as the overwhelming economic benefits may be, for many of us engaged in this great democratic process to found our nation’s 60th national park, this is also about seizing the opportunity to do the right thing. John Otto, supported by this valley’s founding community, the Daily Sentinel and Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce began the process for park status 106 years ago and we firmly believe, it’s realization is long past due.   Very few places in our country qualify for the coveted title of  national park  but our monument  is among  those  few.  Please check out our site’s Why the Colorado National Monument qualifies to be a National Park section to find out more about what makes our  beautiful canyons and geologic wonder so unique in all the world, and so worthy of park status.  From the oldest intact Juniper Pinion woodlands on the Colorado Plateau (with some living trees as much as 1-thousand years old),  to one of a kind dinosaur foot prints, to its  sheltering gift of solitude and awe… for our group, the best reasons to re-designate the monument to a national park are very much based on its own intrinsic values.   It is a sacred place of peace and inspired awe, worthy of sharing with the world and protecting at the highest level  for generations to come.

Would the re-designation make the Grand Valley the only populated community so close to a national park?

Not even close.  Other examples of a national park bordering an urban area as closely as that found in Mesa County: Larimer County and Estes Park, CO – Rocky Mountain National Park (note:  Rocky Mountain National Park is cited as the number 2 attraction to Estes Park, the number one attraction tourists to Estes Park cite is that it is a peaceful, quiet place to get away from the city).  (Summit Economics economic study)


Other national parks with nearby towns include:

Teton County and Jackson Hole, WY – Grand Teton National Park, San Juan County and Grand County (Moab), Utah – Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and San Benito County (Hollister) and Monterey (Salinas, Carmel) CA, Pinnacles National Park” , several small towns also border the  boundaries of the Grand Canyon.  In each case the national parks have proven a quantifiable economic asset or driver to towns and counties closest to national parks. (NPS and Headwaters Economics)

Grand Teton National Park, in fact,  has an airport within its borders.

So, how do we handle increased valley growth and an increase in visitors?

Historically,  increases in visitation to the Colorado National Monument mirror the 2 to 4 percent population growth of the valley.   Based on past history, visitation  will continue to increase regardless of whether our backyard treasure remains a monument or is re-designated as a  national park .  As our valley grows, according to the Colorado National Monument Association…”so too will the challenge of ensuring resource protection, transportation, infrastructure, and enhanced visitor services that would accommodate visitors and provide a balance of meaningful and enjoyable experiences. Long-term integrated transportation plans, visitor and educational services planning, and infrastructure and operation improvement projects are already underway.  These projects will seek to address current and future parking and traffic needs.

Currently traffic through the Colorado National Monument is at it’s lowest level since 1991.  In 1991,  500 motor coaches toured the CNM.  In 2012 that number had declined to 125.  If traffic was not an issue in 1991, the slowth growth a national park is estimated to bring will not be an issue either.    Along with  the anticipated increase of local visitors to the national monument, tourist numbers are expected to increase an estimated 10 percent over 10 years should it be re-designated as a national park.  A re-designation to national park status would primarily attract more foreign tourists who tend to spend far more that domestic tourists.

The Monument will continue to work closely with Mesa County to develop operations to support well planned growth and multi-modal transportation systems.


Have other national monuments been re-designated as national parks?

Yes! The following  National Monuments have been successfully  re-designated from monuments to  national parks.  Pinnacles National Park is the most recent, officially re-designated with the full support of citizens in 2013.  No city or county has ever attempted to revoke park status!   Great Sands National Park and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado  were also re-designated as national parks within the last 15 years.

They include:

  • Biscayne NP, FL
  • Channel Islands NP, CA
  • The Grand Canyon NP, AZ
  • Great Basin NP, NV
  • Joshua Tree NP, CA
  • Arches NP, UT
  • Saguaro NP, AZ
  • Death Valley NP, CA
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, CO
  • Great Sand Dunes NP, CO
  • Pinnacles NP, CA
  • Mount St. Helens NP, WA

Learn more at: http://www.be.wvu.edu/phd_economics/pdf/April15.pdf

I’m concerned re-designating the monument as a park will add new restrictions.

Because national monuments and national parks are operated under the very same rules and regulations,   re-designation to a national park  will not trigger any new rules or regulations nor will it change existing regulations.

I’m concerned this will allow the Federal government to take land or expand the monument.

Since 1848 the Federal government has owned a vast portion of Western Colorado.  The U.S. first acquired most of eastern Colorado through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.    Following the Treaty of Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico ceded to the United States the portion of Colorado not acquired by the Louisiana Purchase. In 1850, the Federal Government purchased Texas’ claims to  Colorado, and the present boundaries of Colorado were established.  (Source:  Colorado State Archives)  The area currently designated as the  Colorado National Monument was part of the land purchased from Texas.   It was already Federal land when President Howard Taft officially approved it’s  designation as a national monument in 1911.  Since 1911, all costs incurred, maintenance, trail and road building, a visitor’s center, and employee salaries have been borne by  visitor fee’s and the tax dollars of every hard working American.  Re-designation will not open the door to expand the park, in fact, quite the opposite.   The Antiquities Act empowers the President of the United States to designate monuments or  expand the boundaries of  existing monuments without the consent of Congress or local or state officials.  Designation to a national park requires an act of Congress and  likewise once a national park has been designated it would take an act of Congress to change it’s status or borders.

Welcome to Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park