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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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Climate: Careful 100-year temperature analysis shows distinct warming in western Colorado and eastern Utah

Record also shows slight increase in precipitation

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A study of western Colorado temperature records suggests that global warming in the region is right in line with many other parts of the globe.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Western Colorado and eastern Utah have warmed in the last century, and it appears that precipitation in the region has also increased, according to a new analysis of historic climate data compiled by Grand Junction-based National Weather Service forecaster Joe Ramey.

General long-term trends include cooling from the 1940s through the 1960s, towards warmer and wetter conditions since the 1970s, on par with many other parts of the country and the world.

Specifically, maximum temperatures have risen 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit and minimum temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit during during the study period going back to 1911, when several towns and cities in the region started to maintain detailed climate data. Continue reading

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

Crop art highlights Colorado River woes as Obama visits Grand Junction

Activists press for better conservation measures to sustain river flows

A message for President Obama. Photo courtesy Protect the Flows.

By Summit Voice

Even before he lands in Colorado, President Obama will be reminded of the one of the key long-term environmental issues in the West, as communities, water providers, would-be oil shale developers and others wrangle over the fate of the Colorado River.

To highlight grassroots concern over the Colorado, the advocacy group Protect the Flowsworked with crop artists Stand Herd to carve a giant message into a field that should be visible as Obama flies into Grand Junction. The message covers about one acre; each letter is 30 feet from top to bottom and the entire message is about 360 feet long, equal to the height of a 36 story building.

The simple phrase, “Mr. Prez – We rely on the Colorado River,” will help make clear that continued plans for increased diversions from the already over-appropriate river pose a fundamental threat to the region. 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

Morning photo: Travel to Colorado’s hidden arches

A grand Meeander

A view of West Rim Arch as one first sees it.

Photos and text by Stan Wagon

The area southwest of Grand Junction offers immense opportunity for exploring interesting sandstone features. Taking a break from the endless snow in Summit County, some friends and I spent a week in the area starting April 27, 2011, the main goal being to hike to some remote arches. But we could not leave the snow behind entirely and spent one day skiing the famed east face of Mt. Tukuhnikivatz east of Moab.

Jonathan Kriegel and I needed perseverance and tools (ice ax, crampons, and a whippet) to climb the east ridge. While the descent was in skiable, but not great, snow conditions, it was overall a fanatastic day and very satisfying to reach this summit towering over eight thousand feet above Moab. Read about skiing the La Sals at Wagon’s website.

Back to sandstone, we first returned to West Rim Arch on the west side of Rattlesnake Canyon. We had visited the top of it last year, but this time we entered the canyon quite directly and contoured around to the bottom of the arch, which has a completely different feel than the top. One can climb right inside the arch for an intriguing view.

A view of West Rim Arch from just underneath it.

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Sunday travel: Arch hunting in Colorado

The canyon country near Grand Junction, Colorado features one of the highest concentration of sandstone arches outside Arches National Park, with fewer people and no entry fee. (All photos copyright Stan Wagon.)

Crown Arch, near Grand Junction, Colorado.

Crown Arch, near Grand Junction, Colorado, is one of a collection of arches in the rugged canyons of western Colorado, near Grand Junction. PHOTO BY STAN WAGON.

Summit County resident and desert explorer Stan Wagon and his wife, Joan Hutchinson, recently spent a few days exploring some of the more obscure arches in the canyonlands outside Grand Junction.The area they visited is near Rattlesnake Canyon, with a reputation for having one of the highest concentration of those stunning rock formations outside Arches National Park. See more on this area with this link to Wagon’s website.

Story and photos by Stan Wagon
“Our explorations began May 13 with a hike on the Boy Scout trail in Glenwood Springs, and then with a trek to West Rim Arch, also known as Finger Arch, on the west side of Rattlesnake Canyon, opposite to the more famous series of arches.

“This arch is as spectacular as any over there, and fun to find. Here are UTM coordinates in the 1983 system. (Be very careful: The topo map uses the 1927 system, and I often forget that. Coordinates for the West Rim Arch: UTM 1983 = Zone 12; 686294 E; 4333134 N. There is a new Trails Illustrated/National Geographic map of the area, and that lists this arch with latitude/longitude coordinates. Continue reading

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