Organizations Want Veto Power Over National Park Service At Colorado National Monument

There's a story in western Colorado involving Colorado National Monument that bears watching. The gist of the story is that some local community organizations are in support of redesignating the monument as a national park, but only if they can veto Park Service decisions on what uses the monument is appropriate for.

Onlookers believe that this ties in to past efforts to have a professional bike race -- the 2013 USA Pro Challenge -- course through the national monument along the 23-mile-long Rim Rock Drive. In the past, officials all the way up to the director of the National Park Service have said that would be an inappropriate use of the national monument.

Now, earlier this spring the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association passed a resolution in support of renaming the monument a national park. That resolution was similar to one adopted earlier by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as one passed by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. The kicker is that the groups want the legislation to give community stakeholders veto power over any Park Service decisions on uses the agency finds are inappropriate for the monument...such as a professional bike race.

Whether legislation will be introduced into Congress this summer by either U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton or U.S. Sen. Mark Udall to redesignate the monument as a national park remains to be seen.

Park advocacy groups, though, are keeping an eye on this issue and are stressing that the Park Service's hands should not be tied when it comes to what is appropriate for Colorado National Monument.

At the National Parks Conservation Association, officials have said it is good for the Park Service to meet with local stakeholders to discuss the future of Colorado National Monument. But David Nimkin, senior director for NPCA's Southwest regional office, has made it clear that NPCA strongly opposes a professional bike race through the monument.

Simply put, he says, the commercialization of the national monument is out of bounds.

Also watching the issue is the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, which also opposes a professional bike race in the monument. While that group believes it is doubtful that Sen. Udall would offer legislation that would provide local stakeholders veto power over the Park Service, the Coalition nevertheless has notified him of its position on the matter. If the senator or any other congressional representative offers legislation to rename the monument as a national park for the significant natural resources and history of Colorado National Monument, the coalition will offer its official position on the matter at that time.

Comments

If this doesn't show how fed up the public is with the NPS arrogance and lack of regard for public input, I don't know what does. Good for them for putting restrictions on the NPS. I suppose they are reading what has been happening in the Smokies and elsewhere. It really is time for an oversight mechanism for Jarvis NPS. Every other federal agency has to answer to the public. This is the only one of which I know where an unelected bureaucrat can arbitrarily make decisions about public lands and fear little recourse from the public. There were agreements in place here in the Smokies that were disregarded over time so I hope that these folks get specific legal language in place, not that it really matters with the NPS. They will march on regardless, but it might assist a group when it comes time to sue them, because that is about all you can do with this agency to get their attention.

Meanwhile in other news, the Center for Disease Control announced today that is monitoring a new and potentially dangerous virus that seems to be sweeping America.

It's called Epidemic Entitlement Syndrome. The infection usually presents in a series of loud statements proclaiming that the infected person is entitled to do anything they wish to do, when they wish to do it, and wherever they wish to do it. That is often followed by convulsive repetition of condemnation for anyone who may try to point out other opinions and a total inability to consider other points of view. Some scientists are investigating reports that the virus appears to become exacerbated when fees or taxes of any kind are mentioned in the presence of one who has been infected.

Did anyone read the part about the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Associations involvement in this? This smacks of yet another effort by mega fossil fuel industries and others to encroach as much as possible on public lands. This would set a terrible precedent. Just say NO.

Yes Lee, and I hear EES is particularly prevelant among current and former government employees and the 47% that pay no taxes.

Interesting post, and a complicated issue. You can understand the local community interests being concerned about changes that may affect how they perceive and use the park, on the other hand, National Parks (or monuments in this case), are just that and guidelines are established to manage them at the National level. I think the Barbara Moritsch book, "The Soul of Yosemite", lays out the issues very well, agree or not, about the competing interests vying for access to these National treasures.

The chamber of commerce and the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association are just trying to use what cards they have to get something they want. Can't blame them for that. In this case, however, I don't support their efforts and I think they have it backwards. I don't think anyone (including the federal government) should be forced to use their land in a certain way and wouldn't want a legislated local "veto" power to force some ill advised use. On the other hand, while it has the legal power to do so, I don't believe the Feds should ignore local input nor should it have outright bans on certain activities without considering whether such activities actually have a detrimental effect. Its propensity to do so in the past is probably a factor the the Chamber and Association pursuing the path they are.

Real shocking that a govt employee wouldn't want to have to answer to the public. How incredibly unpredictable. I am entitled to an opinion and your comments are bordering on violation of terms of service, Lee Dalton. This is the National Parks Traveler, not the National Parks employee service center.

ec, interesting comment. I think you are right when you state that the Federal government "should not ignore local input nor should it impose outright bans on certain activities without considering weather such activities actually have a detrimental effect". I do think that this happens in most cases, in fact it is required by NEPA. This is an important congressional piece of legislation that protects the citizens right to have input into Federal planning decisions. Needless to say, most decisions will not please everyone, but at least the decision should be based on the best information available, and the publics right to comment, and I think that does happen in most, but not all, cases. Al least that has been my own experience.

Perhaps the NPS should have veto power over the land uses of the oil and gas industry, or perhaps the local organizations who may want developments touching the border of the parks so they can extract profit from the very park service they despise. Oh, just think what a giant overreach of the evil government that would be. Nothing wrong with it as proposed from their point of view. It amazes me.

Ozark - you are missing one important element - a quid pro quo. The chamber and the Association are giving their support in return for the veto power and not just demanding it. I don't believe the NPS should take that deal but there is nothing wrong with the offer.

The NPS is free to offer something to the oil and gas industry or local organizations to stop some of their activities and there would be absolutely nothing wrong with it. For example, the feds might say - don't drill next to Roosevelt National Park and we will open up parts of fed lands elsewhere for you. Would that be so bad? Isn't this the kind of of give and take that so many here have complained is lacking in Washington?

Some interesting agendas in this issue. If you look back at earlier stories on the Traveler about the bike race controversy, it's pretty clear that event was a case of some local business interests vs. park visitors. Some local businesses saw extra cash from a commercial bike race that would attract a crowd to the area, but the tradoff was closing the park to use by visitors for a day, to allow an event that had nothing to do with the park.

I'd suggest this isn't a case of the NPS failing to listen to public input, because there was no lack of opposition to this commercial activity at public expense. It was a case of the NPS failing to give into some local interests vs. the larger public interest (visitors who simply wanted to enjoy the use of the scenic drive, trails and other reasons the park was established.) There's a long-standing NPS policy that commercial special events should not interfere with normal visitor use of a park, and that's as it should be.

Ec - you make some useful comments on the quid pro quo. The irony in this case is that the NPS isn't the one pushing for a change in status for this site from a national monument to a national park - the NPS really has little to gain from that change.

The push for the redesignation is coming primarily from those same local businesses who believe the "national park label" will bring more visitors to the area--and now they want this "veto power" in exchange for their support. If they withdraw their support for a name change and the idea fails, that's really no loss to the resources or visitor experience at Colorado National Monument.

And...no, I'm not at all against local businesses benefitting from having NPS areas "next door" -those economic benefits from parks are a great advantage to a local area. That doesn't mean, however, that local economic interests should be given power to determine park policy for protecting resources.

ecBuck, I agree with you on your primise.

Jim Burnett, I was thinking the same thing but I am sure I would not have worded it as well. The support to change from monument to National Park seems to only gain the locals and not the NPS.

Jim - I'm not pushing for a change in status either, it might be nice as a park but at this time we can't afford it. Though some on this board have in the past pushed for Park status.

At the same time, I totally disagree with your stance on the bike race. How could attracting thousands of new visitors to the monument be against the "public interest". Are people that exclusively visit parks some "special" group? Are they a preferred visitor over someone else?

ec, a valid question, and I'll offer a subjective answer.

NPS areas such as Colorado National Monument are places with special resources and opportunities for visitors, and visitors to this park are free to chose their options. Some will take the loop drive at the speed limit, glance at the scenery and perhaps stop at an overlook and snap a quick photo, and go on their way. Others will spend hours soaking in the superb scenery, or will hike, or camp, or climb, spend hours framing a special photo, set up an easel and paint, or enjoy the wildlife, or the geology, or the plants, or simply find a spot to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet in a magnificent setting. Some will enjoy a bike ride ... but they won't demand that the road be reserved for their use alone.

If the park is closed for the exclusive benefit of a commercial sporting event, the rest of the public loses the opportunity to do any and all of those things—and for visitors who include this park as part of a longer trip and have only one chance to do so, that would be a shame.

Will some of the people coming to see cyclists ride a winding mountain road at the fastest possible speed also enjoy the scenery? Probably. Does that justify tying up the area for this single event, and denying use of a large public area for all other uses? Opinions clearly differ, but I'd say "no."

You asked, "Are people that exclusively visit parks some 'special' group?" I don't know anyone who "exclusively visits parks," but I'd suggest that people who visit parks to enjoy experiences that are exclusive to the parks deserve the chance to do so without being locked out due to a single-use, commercial special event.

There are hundreds of miles of other mountain roads in Colorado where a race can occur, but very few miles of road that offer the kind and variety of special experiences available in Colorado National Monument.


Opinions clearly differ


Yep. In my opinion, giving 10s of thousands a new opportunity to enjoy the area far outweighs the incovenience a few might encounter.

I have no real problem with the monuument staff and the community sitting together to talk about what kinds of activities are appropriate in the area. One thing for sure: the bike race is not appropriate. The 2006 management policies say a permit cannot be issued for an event unless there is a meaningful association between the area and the event and the event will contribute to the visitor's understanding of the area. The bike race fails both these standards. Moreover, Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regualations states that a request for a permit must be denied if it primarily benefits a for-profit organization and if it awards more than nominal prizes to the winners.

The tens of thousands of visitors that ec mentions are not there to see the monument; they are there to see professional bike races rip down hills at 60 miles an hour. There is nothing wrong with that. It just shouldn't happen in an area of the national park system.

Rick


It just shouldn't happen in an area of the national park system.


I understand it currently "can't" because of federal regs. I don't understand the shouldn't.

Though when I think about it, I don't see why being there to see the bike race wouldn't "contribute to the understanding" - whatever that means. People will be there for hours waiting for the bikers to come by. They will be hiking, bird watching, scanning the scenery, picnicking and all the other things regular visitors do. Heck, the bike spectators will probably be there longer not watching the races than the normal visitor stays.

ec - lots of assumptions there about what race watchers might be doing while waiting for the race to come by. I'm not an expert on the park, having only visited it a few times, but it seems likely given the terrain the only place along the park road to accommodate large numbers of people would be on the relatively flat (and frankly uninteresting) open desert terrain near the two park entrances. Not much to see and do there for picnics, hikes, etc. in the heat of a typical August day.

Once you get up into the scenic interior of the park along the steep and winding two-lane road, there just aren't a lot of places to stage big crowds for hours at a time, especially since they would need reasonable access to facilities like rest rooms. As to leaving the roadside for a hike or other activities while waiting for the race to pass, maybe you'd give up a prime viewing location for the race to go take a hike :-)

As to "giving 10s of thousands a new opportunity to enjoy the area far outweighs the incovenience a few might encounter," that also assumes two things: (1) "10's of thousands" could be accommodated for the day in the scenic interior of the park (very questionable). and (2) only a "few" visitors who wanted to visit the park for reasons other than the bike race would be incovenienced by being turned away due to the event. Makes me wonder if you've bothered to check on the park visitation in August, which is a lot more than a "few." A daily number in four figures is more like it.

Mtnliving

Not assumptions, experience. I am quite familiar with the Pro Challange in Colorado. Last year it went over Independence Pass. The pass was closed but thousands walked, biked or drove before the closure to line the road. There is no mass viewing area, no staged viewing, there are people sitting one/two deep along the entire route. Their time in the "Pass" is measured in hours. Their watching the race is measured in minutes. I can assure you those "spectators" had a far better "understanding" of Independence Pass than any of the usual tourists that never leave their car.

Sounds like a good place for the event, and confirms that there are plenty of good choices that don't involve closing park roads. Those who enjoy the competetive race atmosphere can go to places like Independence Pass, and those who enjoy a lower key experience in a park can go to places like Colorado NM. No need to try to make every place fit every possible activity. The climate for serious racing in August would also be a lot more enjoyable at Independence Pass than in the Grand Junction area :-)


Those who enjoy the competetive race atmosphere can go to places like Independence Pass, and those who enjoy a lower key experience in a park can go to places like Colorado NM.


Why not vice versa? The fact is I blew away your original argument so now you have to make up a new one. Like other's here your opposition isn't based on facts its based on your personal veiw that the unwashed shouldn't use the parks.

Not sure which "original argument" you supposedly "blew away," but my point has been the same all along: all places are not the same in terms of resources and suitability for large, commercial events. As you suggest, a highway like the one over Independence Pass is a good choice for such events attracting a large crowd; a park road in a special and more confined area like Colorado NM isn't. "Why not vice versa?" is because the two sites aren't managed for the same public purposes.

As to changing positions, I notice you decided not to address the fact that closing the monument would impact more than just a few people. If that's the position you mention, I'll stand by my assertion that the monument can handle a couple of thousand people spread out over the entire park for a full day vs. the "tens of thousands" you predict would show up at one time to line the road for a race.

ec--

I have read a lot of your posts and have rarely seen you 'blow away" anyone's arguments.

Rick

Unwashed? You mean the 47% who supposedly don't pay taxes? Actually, I think most of us who oppose the race are actually rooting for the common folks, so it appears you've turned mtliving's point around backwards. I sorta think he's arguing for the unwashed among us. You know, the farm family from Iowa who finally got to take a vacation or the retired veteran or teacher or firefighter or nurse who might have only one chance to visit the park.

Somehow, I think there are many more Americans who would prefer not to spend hours trying to find a place to park only to have to ride a crowded shuttle bus, hike awhile and try to find a place to stand in the sun while waiting for a couple of hours for the privilege of watching a horde of sweaty bicyclists swoop by and disappear at dizzying speed, and then turn around and hike back to their car or the bus stop and then fight their way through traffic to get out of the place than there are who would be willing to endure so much for so little other than the chance to help line some promoter's pockets.

But to each his own. That's just not my idea of enjoyable. I'd almost rather go to see a Transformers movie.


a highway like the one over Independence Pass is a good choice for such
events attracting a large crowd; a park road in a special and more
confined area like Colorado NM isn't.


"Highway" over Independence Pass???? It would appear you have never been over Independence Pass.

Your argument was that Colorado Monument didn't have places to "stage large crowds" or restroom facilities and that they would be forced into flat desert like places. The experience of Independence Pass is that it didn't have plases to state "large crowds" didn't have extensive restroom facilities (probably less than Co NM) and people weren't forced into desert like places. Your argument was shown completely false, though that went over Rick's head, so you tried to shift to a different argument. If anything, CONM is more conducive to the race than Independence Pass. I would guess more people were "inconvenienced" by Independence Pass being closed than go through CONM on a daily basis. Except, they probably weren't really inconvenienced. They were there and enjoyed the excitement of the race.

As to the "few people" - the race last year had over 1 million spectators over 7 stages. That averages more than 100K per stage. I don't think 10s of thousands for a stage through CONM would be an exaggeration at all. A normal summer day in CONM would see a couple thousand. How many of those would be people unaware of the race or unable to come a different day would be a minor fraction of that. So a few hundred "inconvenienced" versus 10s of thousands enjoying the race I think qualifies as "a few".


Highway" over Independence Pass???? It would appear you have never been over Independence Pass.


Well, I guess it's possible there is more than one Independence Pass in Colorado, but last time I drove over one by that name east of Aspen, I used Colorado Highway 82, a pretty nice paved road :-)


a pretty nice paved road


You mean like Rim Rock Road? Independence Pass is no more paved or "nicer".

I think if it were a Local Monument instead of a National Monument then the locals could have veto power, but since it is not than there is no way this would or should happen. As for the bike race I see both sides. ecbuck, you make good points but it would be interesting to see how it fits the mission statement of National Monuments or Parks. It also would be nice to see if it could have a smaller impact than 10's of thousands. Also what percent of roads would be closed and for how long. To me it seems like sharing the park on a race day would be to big a burden in my opinion. I do appreciate your view and it does make me think about it.

Some relevant background about this particular cycling event is summarized in this editorial from the November 24, 2012 Durango Herald:

http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20121124/OPINION01/121129798/0/SEARCH/Bicycle-race

My home town of Durango was the starting line for the 2012 race. The organizers promised so many visitors that the city waived some of its ordinances to allow private homeowners to rent out rooms without the usual permits, since all the hotels were expected to be full. The city erected new statuary, removed some speed bumps, hung banners, and sat back to await the money that was promised to flow abundantly into local coffers.

Didn't happen. The hotels were not full, the visitors did not come in the promised numbers, and there was no increase in sales tax sufficient to offset the city's extra expenses. In fact some measures were down because of people who stayed away from what they expected would be an overcrowded destination.

Folks in Grand Junction who want to have the Monument used for the race because they think it will bring in tons of bucks would do well to look a little more closely.

Thank you KBenzer for that article. It speaks volumes. The idea that "tens of thousands" of people would want to crowd into an area very difficult to reach and then to leave again was ludicrous.

Durango's experience mirrors that of Ogden, Utah a couple of summers ago when a similar professional bike race clogged the city completely. A few merchants may have realized some extra profits that day, but the race messed up traffic so completely that many others simply closed because customers and clients couldn't get to them. My dentist finally had to reschedule all his appointments and then was stranded as he tried to go home.

From personal experience, I can testify that many -- if not most -- of the "race fans" lining the streets were frustrated motorists who had no choice but to park and wait for the race to pass. There were many loud howls of protest directed toward race monitors and the poor police officers who were trying desperately to cut down on the confusion and reduce hopeless traffic jams.

It was really funny that after all the hype from our city officials and race supporters, there was nothing but almost complete silence aftewards.

It's kind of mind-boggling to me (and OK, I admit to being easily boggled) that a national park could be closed to the majority of the people who own it -- that's us, the taxpayers -- for an event staged by a for-profit organization involving only a minority slice of us (people who are interested in buying tickets to go and stand in August heat to watch bicyclists go by fast. Once.)

I think it's bad policy to even have the possibility of a national park or monument closed to the public for any special-interest activity, profit or non-profit, desired by the local community or not. Because then somebody has to decide whether the activity is "appropriate" for the park in question and that, my friends, is subjective. My idea of suitable or appropriate might well be your idea of desecration in the extreme!

For example: Let's get a couple thousand of those rubber duckies and sell chances on them. Turn them loose on the Colorado river. First one through the Grand Canyon, the "owner" gets half the pot and the other half goes to fight breast cancer or child abuse or something.

That wouldn't even require the whole park to be closed, just the river part. Hmm, wonder what the squawk level would be!

Interest groups already vie for our precious public spaces: hikers, horseback riders, trail bikers, wilderness advocates, accessibility advocates, drivers, hikers, boaters, campers. Why would we want to shut down a monument or park for even a single day so a private company can make money. IMO, a bad precedent!


involving only a minority slice of us (people who are interested in buying tickets to go and stand in August heat to watch bicyclists go by fast. Once.)


You don't buy tickets, its free. 10s of thousands (who are "owners") would be in the Park, 5x+ the normal number of "owners".

BTW,where you here crying when parts of Yellowstone was shut down so the Obama family could visit? Or are political purposes OK - (as long as they are left leaning)?

Agreeing with Amarillobymorning : "It's kind of mind-boggling to me (and OK, I admit to being easily boggled) that a national park could be closed to the majority of the people who own it -- that's us, the taxpayers -- for an event staged by a for-profit organization involving only a minority slice of us"

Taking over national parks/monuments for private commercial interests to hold their own event is beyond the pale. Today its a bicycle race. Tomorrow car racing. Maybe Bank of American and Wells Fargo will start taking over national parks for their own private big wig events too. This type of activity has nothing to do with the mission or spirit of our national park system.


This type of activity has nothing to do with the mission or spirit of our national park system.


Yes, we have absolutely no interest in getting 10s of thousands of people to spend hours in our national park system.

So Mountain Hiker what do you think of this:

http://www.christojeanneclaude.net/projects/over-the-river#.UZgK-sokTT0

And Amirillo thought he was being funny with his rubber duckies.

Ec - the event may be free to spectators, probably because with this format it would be virtually impossible to control admission. It is, however, a commercial sports competition, which the company website says involves "riders from sixteen international, professional teams."

Not everyone is happy with this event, as illustrated by this comment from a business owner in Boulder, Colorado, posted on the website for last year's race:

"We were just informed today that, because of this event, we will not be able to drive our car in to work, unless we pay $30 to park. The same goes for all of our clients scheduled that day. We are not allowed to put our signs for our business on the mall ... The event organizers have already admitted that this will probably be bad for retail business on the mall (although the restaurants and hotels will do great...)."

As to closing parts of Yellowstone or any other park to accommodate security concerns for a presidential visit, I'll take your bait for more silly discussion. Such closures have been standard practice for many years, regardless of who's in the White House, and are under the overall direction of the Secret Service, not the NPS. It's a sad reality of today's world that security for heads of state requires increased levels of security, whether they are visiting a national park or any other location.

Perhaps you'd suggest that it would be prudent to simply disregard those security concerns for any president, but it's easy to be flippant about those issues when you aren't the one who would be held responsible for an incident.

ecbuck -- you said: "Yes, we have absolutely no interest in getting 10s of thousands of people to spend hours in our national park system."

Tens of thousands of people *already* spend hours in our national park system -- as the parks were designed. But suddenly we should have private interests take up park space to run their commercial car racing or commercial rodeos or commercial mega music concerts? Madison Square Gardens or the Indy 500 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park or Grand Teton National Park? Absolutely not. John Muir would be rolling over in his grave. That is not at all the mission or spirit of the national park system. There are thousands of private locations to accomodate all those commercial events.


It is, however, a commercial sports competition


Oh my god no, its "commercial'. How horrible.


Perhaps you'd suggest

No, I would suggest you be consistent. In the Presdident's case many were inconveninced for few. In the bike race, few (relatively speaking) will be inconvenciened for many. Yet the former is ok? My suggestion is the bike race should be OK or the President shouldn't go to the park.


Tens of thousands of people *already* spend hours in our national park system


But not at CONM - which is the unit we are talking about. Do you really believe that the Indy 500 is the qualitative equivalent of a bike race? Is anyone proposing Indy like events over Independence Pass where the pro challange has already ridden?

BTW in 2010 they did the Ride The Rockies bike event through CONM. Same impact on the monument but that was OK but this isn't purely because its "commercial"?

Rodeo? Is that qualitatively differenent than a commerical ice skating rink or a golf course? Mega concerts? Ever heard of Wolf Trap?

Face it. Your only real objection is that you don't like people making money.

ec, will you tell us what the purpose of Wolf Trap really is?

And can you prove to the rest of us that allegations of blatant promoter exaggerations of attendance at these bike races are untrue?

Finally, what is the primary purpose of a national park area? Is it to preserve an irreplaceable resource or to make money for someone?

No one here is trying to say that it is wrong for people to profit from activities like the race. What we are saying is that there are appropriate places and times to profit and there are also some where it is not appropriate.

Face it, your only real objection is that you don't like governance of any kind that might hamper your sense of entitlement.


any kind that might hamper your sense of entitlement.


Now that is funny comming from someone that has lived off the government all his life. Please identify anything that I have claimed I am entitled to other than those "rights" granted by our constitution.

ecbuck: Do you really believe that the Indy 500 is the qualitative equivalent of a bike race?

They're both commercial sports events. Neither one belongs inside a National Park or National Monument. There are thousands of private/commercial locations to hold commercial sports events.

ecbuck: Face it. Your only real objection is that you don't like people making money.

I love it when people make money -- from Bank of America, the Indy 500 and Super Bowl, to the Kentucky Derby, rodeos and manufacturing businesses. They aren't running their commercial events inside our National Parks, however. John Muir's philosophy, to a large degree, lives on. Thank goodness for that.


Ever heard of Wolf Trap?


It's not too difficult to recognize from its name that the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts was added by politicians to the NPS system for a very specific, and unique, purpose. Mega concerts and similar events are clearly appropriate there, but that doesn't mean they would be equally appropriate in all other NPS sites.

If you read the proclamation of May 11, 1911, which established Colorado National Monument, it's clear that action was due to the area's "extraordinary" natural features. Would the scenery in Colorado National Monument be a nice backdrop for a bike race? Sure, as it would for an almost unlimited list of other activities.

Once you decide to close the park for a bike race, what reason is there to deny any other special event? How many closures of a park for special interests then become too many?

One of the problems is the attempt in this and many other cases to try to accommodate almost every possible kind of activity on every piece of public land. To do so fails to recognize that some areas, such as national parks, have unique qualities that provide opportunities for experiences that are not available anywhere else. You can't duplicate the unique views and experiences at the Grand Canyon, or the Tetons, or Colorado National Monument, anywhere else ...but there are a host of other roads where you can invite a huge crowd to watch a bike race.

The fact that a bike race would draw a big crowd isn't justification for holding it in a unique site such as Colorado National Monument. If you were to set up a couple of portable basketball goals in the main sanctuary of the National Cathedral and host an NBA all-stars free-throw shooting contest, you could probably fill the place up. That doesn't mean it would be a great idea.


Would the scenery in Colorado National Monument be a nice backdrop for a bike race?


And already has been. Did you complain in 2010? Or are you only complaining because this is a "commercial" venture?


what reason is there to deny any other special event?


The ability to reason. Putting a blanket ban just because it is "commercial" has no sound basis. It seems to me, people should be able to make a rational decision based on the merits. If it does not harm and actually increases the attendance and interest in the what unit could possibly be wrong with allowing it to occur. BTW CONM is not a Park and it isn't "closed" . There would be thousands of people entering and enjoying the monument. The same people (only more) whose taxes go into the NPS system - but apparently not the people you want.


That doesn't mean it would be a great idea.


I don't know, if you got more people exposed to the Church doing it, it might not be a bad idea at all.

Jim Burnett: there are a host of other roads where you can invite a huge crowd to watch a bike race.

Exactly. The national parks mission and purpose have nothing to do with holding sports events for private interests. If you want to ride your own bicycle on national park roads, fine, that's a great way to enjoy our national parks. But big sports events for special private interests? Nope. Find other venues -- they are plentiful.

If one reads the mission of the National Cathedral, holding an NBA All-star game clearly violates that mission. In short, the National Cathedral would become a site for incommensurable activities, and those activies defined by its mission take precedence. (Jim, thanks for an analogy that should (one would reasonably imagine) right the ship here.)

ec - as you well know as a frequent user of this site, we frequently use the term "park" in a generic sense to refer to any NPS unit; it simply allows for brevity.

Any yes, I'd object to any commercial use that had no connection to the purpose of the area and which prevented the general public from using the area for the activities which normally occur there. In this case, the "thousands of people" entering the monument during such a bike event would certainly would not have not the ability to travel thoughout the park and enjoy the trails or overlooks of their choice along the entire 23-mile scenic drive, accurately described as "one of the grandest scenic drives in the American West."

You complained previously about others being "elitist" in terms of who should be allowed in a park, but if this race were held and entry to the park was restricted as a result, the only ones able to get very far into the interior of the park would be those with the time and fitness for a long and steep trek on foot - or more likely, limited to those willing to ante up an added fee for a bus ride to only pre-planned destinations in the park.

Given those restrictions, I'd hardly call the park "open" to anyone not interested in the bike race.

Since the question of "entitlements" has come up, there is an element of that in this discussion. Every type of user of public lands, whether it be hikers, dirt bike riders, ATV riders, horseback riders, bicycle riders, motorcycle clubs, tent campers, RV campers, wilderness backpackers, wildlife watchers, or bike racers - the list goes on and on - want to exercise their "right" to engage in their particular activity on public lands.

There is space throughout this country for all of those activities, but not all of them are compatible on the same piece of ground, and they can't all occur everywhere if the users are to have a satisfactory experience. The attempt to "homogonize" our parks by making them nothing more than another venue for your favorite activity in the end diminishes their value, and every privately-organized event doesn't have to occur on public lands.

In the case of this race, the event website says there are more towns vying for this race than can be scheduled, so there's no compelling reason to try to force it onto an NPS area. The primary motivation is the hope it will bring more business to some merchants in the vicinity – but as noted by earlier comments, that's not a given, and not all business owners or residents of areas affected by the race are happy with the results.

As to the subject of "entitlement-thinking" and the original subject of this story, local business interests such as the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Junction Economic Partnership are rightly delighted the have the taxpayers pay the tab to operate Colorado National Monument, which attracts plenty of business to their area. One local source places the direct economic impact of the monument on the local economy at $23 million a year.

Now, those same groups want all of us to continue to foot the bill for the monument but redesignate it a "national park" to attract even more business .... while giving the locals veto power over decisions about the management of the area? Sounds like a sweet deal for the locals if they can pull it off, but the rest of us - and other NPS areas by reason of a dangerous precedent - would be the losers.

Mtliving, you've described exactly the concept of conservative socialism. Simply stated, it's socialize expenses, privatize profits.

Here in Ogden, the bike race a couple of years ago caused tremendous inconvenience. Beyond that, it cost taxpayers a huge amount of money. Attempts to find out exactly how much were only partially successful because of stonewalling by the former mayor's administration. It's safe to say, however, that it ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars. City street crews were used to put out orange barrels to block streets and park and recreation, and sanitation crews were used to place a flock of trash cans -- and then to fill them with litter later. Police were on overtime. Porta-potties were rented -- but apparently only a few were actually ever used. There was even one report of a paramedic unit and ambulance being seriously delayed on an emergency response. Those are only a few of the things that certainly cost taxpayers.

To my knowledge, there was never any reimbursement for city expenses. And, last I heard, no one had been able to get an answer from the city regarding any cost/benefit numbers. In fact, even the Chamber of Commerce finally admitted that probably less than thirty businesses had realized significant benefits. (While many others, such as my dentist, suffered serious losses.) The mayor was not running for re-election, but I'd be willing to bet that if he had been, the race would have contributed some serious challenges for his campaign. There was serious talk among many citizens of doing everything possible to either ban the race or try to disrupt it if it was forced upon the city.

There has been almost absolute silence since that experience. Although the race was held again last year. With much better planning and greater control imposed by the new city administration, the effect was much less and disruption was nowhere near as severe as it was the first time. The difference? The first race ran through and around main streets all over town. The second was restricted to outlying and less traveled streets.

Race organizers didn't like it one bit. But they had no choice because the new mayor stood his ground -- along with the city council. There has been no mention of another race. I don't know if that is the case at Colorado or not (I don't think I had heard of a previous race there until just recently) -- but is it possible that lessons learned after that first experience, led to the present resistance against future races? Also, how much taxpayer money was spent to enable that first race? And how much was repaid? Was that a case of socializing expenses and privatizing profits?

Seems to me that it's smart to learn from mistakes. If that is the case, isn't this a situation in which park officials should be congratulated for cutting government waste? It always mystifies my as to how some people can complain loudly against government spending and in another breath, yowl because it won't happen.


I'd object to any commercial use that had no connection to the purpose of the area


Yes, you have made that abundantly clear. What you have not provided is any rationale why Ride the Rockies is OK but the Pro Challange is not. Identical impacts - except RTR probably brings less folks into the park, no money to the park and far less exposure to the public of the park experience. The only real difference is one is commercial. To me excluding an event exclusively because it is commercial isn't rational. Neither is it rational to complain that a few people will be inconvienced when 10s of thousand will be enabled.