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Stakeholders move cautiously toward redesignating Colorado National Monument as a national park

Proposal released for local review and comment

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Colorado National Monument. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After a year of local input and discussions, Colorado lawmakers this week took the next step toward redesignating Colorado National Monument as Rim Rock Canyons National Park.

U.S. Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, and Republican Congressman Scott Tipton unveiled a bipartisan proposal driven by community recommendations. According to joint press release from Udall and Tipton, the proposal reflects local residents and stakeholders’ concerns and interests about a possible redesignation.

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National Park Service under pressure to allow pro bike race

Sidewalk chalk art at the Breckenridge stage of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge. Bob Berwyn photo.

Former superintendent of Colorado National Monument says new planning process is means to a pre-determined end

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — National park conservation advocates and retired park employees say they’ll carefully watch an upcoming planning process at Colorado National Monument that may have been spurred by pressure from elected officials and special interests.

Park service officials said last week they would launch a public process to evaluate a variety of special uses, including weddings, commercially guided climbing and, not least, professional bike racing.

In a press release, regional NPS director John Wessels said the plan “will bring greater transparency to our decision-making process, and will draw upon the community’s knowledge and connections to the monument to inform our decisions on future activities.”

Unsuccessful efforts by the Grand Junction business community to route a section of the USA Pro Challenge cycling race through the monument may have triggered the planning effort. Based on national regulations and policy, the National Park Service twice rejected a proposal to hold a section of the race in the monument. Continue reading

Park Service eyes new plan for Colorado National Monument

Bike race controversy sets stage for possible rule changes

Colorado National Monument. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Officials at Colorado’s namesake national monument say that, after two years of controversy over holding a stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, they will develop a plan for managing visitor activities along Rim Rock Drive in Colorado National Monument.

The plan will outline a transparent process for National Park Service review of special events such as sporting events, bicycle tours, organized picnics and weddings. The plan will also address requests by private businesses to offer services in the monument.

“Colorado National Monument is a world class scenic wonder, so it is no surprise that it is also a highly sought-after venue for special events,” said John Wessels, NPS Intermountain Regional Director. “The Visitor Activity and Commercial Services Plan will bring greater transparency to our decision-making process, and will draw upon the community’s knowledge and connections to the monument to inform our decisions on future activities.” Continue reading

Park Service: No bike race in Colorado National Monument

Grand Junction group seeks to host USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage

The National Park Service won’t allow the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to hold part of a stage in Colorado National Monument.

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. Continue reading

Travel: Explore Colorado canyon country

The somewhat secret arches of western Colorado

Crown Arch in western Colorado’s Mee Canyon.

All photos by Stan Wagon

SUMMIT COUNTY — Utah may get all the press when it comes to natural sandstone arches, but Colorado has an impressive collection of its own. In fact, the sandstone plateaus and canyons southwest of Grand Junction, near Colorado National Monument, have one of the greatest collections of natural stone arches, centered around Rattlesnake and Mee canyons.

Part-time Summit County resident, explorer and snow sculptor extraordinaire Stan Wagon treks to the canyons each spring, avoiding the more trodden ground around Moab to explore some of Colorado’s wildest backcountry. As a Summit Voice contributor, Wagon has frequently shared his adventures with readers here. You can read about last year’s arches excursion, and get more information on the area in this Summit Voice story. More specific information on access and locations are at this page on Wagon’s website.

This year’s photo essay features some amazing wildlife photography in addition to the stunning photos of the arches, so please read on and visit Wagon’s Utah web page for much more. Continue reading

Travel: Free national parks admission next week

Start the spring travel season with a visit to one Colorado’s 13 national parks, 22 national historic landmarks or 12 national natural landmarks

Colorado National Monument. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With the price of just about everything going up these days, it’s not east to plan a low-cost family getaway. But this coming week, the National Park Service will help make travel just a little bit more affordable with free admission to all national parks during National Park Week.

Jeffrey Bergeron enjoys views on the Chimney Rock trail in Capitol Reef National Park. PHOTO COURTESY ELLEN HOLLINSHEAD.

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Morning photo: Colorado

Some weekend eyecandy …

Summer sunset over Dillon Reservoir.

SUMMIT COUNTY — A quick surfing trip through the archives yielded some shots showing some of Colorado’s many faces, from desert and plains to high country splendor.

Colorado National Monument.

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