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


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