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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.


Isn't the point that National Parks, Monuments etc are established for the Nation not a local community

Perhaps - but just like any property owner - the NPS should be a good neighbor. To ignore the impacts of the NPS on the local community or the wishes of the local users who are likely to be a large portion of the Park's visitors would be irresponsibile. That doesn't mean the locals rule, it just means the locals' input should be given strong consideration.

"If you want to what is best for the NP park survey the locals and then do the opposite."

Actually, the NPS have been doing this for awhile now, its called the NEPA process.

Isn't the point that National Parks, Monuments etc are established for the Nation not a local community? Local input should not succeed the bigger picture. Let state parks decided state interests and local parks decided local interests.

From my experience input from local communities is usually self severing having little to do with with why the Park was created. The locals are always the ones that want more of this and less protection for that. They believe they have more rights and input than others. If you want to what is best for the NP park survey the locals and then do the opposite.
I realise I am a bit biased because I live next to a park where the worst of local input is being crammed down the NPS 's throat.

If I understand ecbuck's post correctly, I think he raises a good point. The issue is/or should be, the appropriateness of the activity itself. In the NPS, these policies on appropriate activities have been debated and discussed for almost 100 years now, and many have been formalized in regulations and or management policies. Some regulations are stated in the legislation creating the area itself. Others have been defined by additional congressional action like the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act or the Wilderness Act.

The issue of profit vs. non-profit is more complicated. For example, hiking is considered an appropriate use in most, if not all parks. A volunteer leader can lead a group of high school students (for example), and the person will not be required to be permitted as commercial guide as long as s/he is not charging fees of each student and making a profit off the activity. However a commercial guide is also allowed to lead trips but must get a commercial permit to do so. This is well established policy, agree with it or not.

If the public does not agree with a long standing limitation on what is an appropriate use, then there is recourse through citizen activism, congressional action etc. Sometimes the issue is so overwhelming that the technology drives the issue to a new conclusion. For example, In Yosemite all cars were banned for about fifteen years before the NPS had to cave on the issue. In any case, I do not think its a profit vs nonprofit issue, its the defined appropriate activities of the parks. Once that is established then limits on what will be permitted in the ways of fees, for profit concessions, etc. enter the discussion. In our parks, the commercial activity aspects have been generally quite limited. This is particularly true beginning with the election of FDR and the appointment of Harold Ickes (a bullmoose republican), as Secretary of the Interior, a position he held until FDR's death (if I remember my history correctly). Rick, Jim, Lee, etc., please add, correct, delete if I am off base here.

but whether it's appropriate to convert public parklands to private use for profit

That's were we disagree. Private vs profit should not be the issue. The issue should be is the activity itself appropriate or not. A destructive private activity should not be allowed while a contributive one for profit should be perfectly fine (and vice versa).

The only reason to think otherwise if because one deems "profits" evil.

Jim--You make a very good point, and getting back to Colorado NM and the bike race, it's what comes along with it that makes it inappropriate for a setting like the monument. I am talking about the helicopters, the support crews, the chase cars, the press, the television infrastructure, all of which make a significant impact on park resources and visitor enjoyment The sponsors were offered a chance for the bikers to make a ceremonial ride through the monument, minus all the above. They turned it down.


Yes. Maybe no. Then again perhaps. But are all Kenevils evil? Depends. Tell us what we should think. We humbly await thy guidance.

ec - reasonable questions in your previous comment. I'd suggest that the impacts on the park of Evil K's event, with or without the money or publicity, would not have been the exact same thing. Examples of differences would include the amount of supporting infrastructure for media coverage and spectators. No publicity = minimal crowds and traffic and no fleets of 18-wheelers for film and TV crews.

As to "is money really that evil a thing?" No, with the caveat it depends on how it's obtained or used ... and that clearly is a value judgement :-) It's hard to beat the age-old adage: it's the love of money that's the root of all evil.

The question in the current topic isn't really whether money or profit is inherently good or evil, but whether it's appropriate to convert public parklands to private use for profit, even on a temporary basis.

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