The “push” to create a national park really started with a man who loved our area’s magnificent canyons so much he made its designation as a national park his life long mission. John Otto circulated the first national park petition in 1907. With Otto, the Daily Sentinel and Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce leading the charge, every single local business leader signed on in support. Even when we were nothing more than a small burg at the edge of the Rockies …locals with a good dose of common sense, a great deal of vision, no time to waste and most of all the betterment of our community at heart knew…the monument held spectacular economic and environmental promise for the future. They signed on because they believed it would spur growth and the economy. John signed on because he had a passion for our red rock canyons and their eternal majesty that lasted to his dying day.
Our Grand Valley generated enough leadership and support to convince President Taft in 1911 to raise our canyon’s profile as a national monument.
The Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce led a second but failed push for a national park in 1990 after Exxon “shut out the lights”. The unemployment rate that year was 5.5 percent. Today, it is 8.4 percent. Makes you wonder if things would be different had that effort succeeded.
Two years ago, as our regional economy again struggled through deep recession Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton formed a 16 member committee to study the issue. Some public open houses were held but no dedicated public education effort was undertaken to inform our region’s residents of outside research or the committee’s findings. An informal GJ Chamber poll, taken without the benefit of a public education effort, revealed an uninformed community, evenly divided on the issue. After 18 months of study indicating innumerable benefits to our community and no serious impacts, the committee, comprised of several staunch park supporters and a few stalwart opponents reached no conclusion and made no recommendation. The study group subsequently disbanded in 2012.
A third push is currently underway, this time led by passionate community leaders, unwilling to let a once in a lifetime opportunity pass our region by again without a serious, full fledged effort to realize John Otto’s dream of a national park. Some considerable study of the issue over the last year sheds further light on the substantial benefits of bringing America’s 60th national park home to the Grand Valley. This website is part of our attempt to share the facts with all residents and allow them to lend their voice to this historic opportunity to create a national park. This grassroots effort is a wonderful opportunity to introduce your children or teenagers to the democratic process by allowing them to study the facts, make a decision for or against, then send a letter to let our lawmakers know how they feel (check out: Support Letters on our site for an example). Every American, particularly our children, should learn how the democratic process works and be assured that their voice is important. Each of us can make a difference, on this or any issue now and in the years ahead. Children are after all the future and this is a decision that will impact generations to come.