Grand Junction group seeks to host USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The USA Pro Cycling Challenge won’t be going through Colorado National Monument in 2013, as the National Park Service once again denied a request by a local organizing committee to use the monument for part of a stage in popular race.
According to a post on the Grand Junction local organizing committee’s Facebook page, the group submitted a third request to use four miles of road in the monument — from the Glade Park turnoff to the east entrance — as part of a Grand Junction-based stage.
Local organizers persisted in their efforts to route at least part of stage through the monument for several reasons — the monument has a legacy of cycling from the Coors Classic days, said John Hopkins, co-chair of the local organizing committee.
“We tried very hard to meet their concerns,” Hopkins said, explaining that latest application focused on a short stretch of road through the monument considered to be a public right-of-way.
Organizers believed the route could be used without harming park resources or the visitor experience, but, in the end, couldn’t convince the park service.
Hopkins said the group will now prepare a bid that showcases some of the other highlights of the Grand Valley area, perhaps included a route that would take cyclists over the Grand Mesa, a spectacular flat-top mountain that towers over the Colorado River Valley.
Some of the area’s famed orchards and vineyards could also serve as a backdrop to a stage that would showcase sprinters in a time trial, he said.
Park Service officials this week said the race would violate agency rules on commercial use and limit public access during the stage. Read the full announcement from the park service here.
“While we are disappointed with this decision, we remain fully committed to getting a stage in our community in 2013 and are best looking at how to make this happen. We all know our community has several world class routes to present to Medalist Sports,” the local organizing group posted on Facebook.
Previous requests to hold a stage in the monument were also denied, despite political pressure from Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper, who interceded with the National Park Service on behalf of the organizers.
The previous denials also cited citing unacceptable effects on park resources and park visitors and conflicts with federal regulations and NPS Management Policies.
The National Parks Conservation Association supported the decision by the agency.
“This decision by the National Park Service and Superintendent Eckert falls directly in line with the science-based and fair access policies set forth to preserve the integrity of our park system,” said David Nimkin, the group’s regional director.
“As was iterated less than two years ago, when NPS and then Superintendent Joan Anzelmo issued a nearly identical denial for the event in 2011, holding this race in Colorado National Monument would cut off the major transportation stem that goes through the park, closing the park for up to six hours and restricting visitor access to this national treasure. This decision by Park Service leaders works to protect Colorado National Monument from actions that are commercial in nature and not intrinsic to the operations of the park,” Nimkin said.
Park Service regulations say superintendents can only authorize special events that promote greater understanding of the park, or have a meaningful association with it.
In a letter to the organizing committee, the park service also said the “park’s natural tranquility will be impaired by the activities necessary to support the race.”
Filed under: biking, Colorado, events, recreation Tagged: | Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction Colorado, National Park Service, National Parks Conservation Association, USA Pro Cycling Challenge