GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — A community group has been formed to explore upgrading the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction to a national park.

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said Thursday that the group is made up of 16 community leaders representing western Colorado interests. Tipton, whose district includes the monument, and Udall said Thursday the committee will take comments about making the monument a national park.

The group will include elected officials, homeowners and ranchers from the area and business leaders.

Congress would have to approve making the monument a national park. Supporters say reclassifying the 32 square miles of red-rock monoliths and canyons would bring more attention to the site and boost area tourism.

Others have questioned whether the change would lead to stricter environmental regulations.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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