GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) – Colorado National Monument won’t be up for consideration as a new national park in the near future.
Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Scott Tipton won’t bring a bill to Congress this year to change the designation for the 20,000-acre monument in western Colorado, the Grand Junction Sentinel reported.
A community group appointed to study the change concluded that they couldn’t recommend the designation because of neighbors’ division over the idea.
Udall, who started talk about park status in February 2011, said the designation discussion isn’t over and that even people opposed to the change have seemed open to keep talking about it.
“I think it’s significant that nobody is saying a flat-out no,” Udall said Tuesday.
Colorado National Monument is a park of breathtaking purple-gray cliffs and mesas in the Colorado River’s Grand Valley. It is part of the greater Colorado Plateau, which also includes the Grand Canyon. It was made a national monument in 1905 by President William Howard Taft.
Warren Gore, a rancher and a co-chairman of the study committee, said he believed Colorado National Monument could become a national park – but that concerns of nearby residents needed more consideration. Concerns include keeping the monument its current size and preserving access to Rim Rock Drive, a scenic route that is choked with tourists and also used by cattle trucks.
“It’s a doable idea, but it’s got to have local input,” Gore told the newspaper.
Udall told the study committee that no bill would be brought immediately. He tried to allay fears that the park designation bill would include provisions added by lawmakers.
“I know of no public-lands bill that has been hijacked by another state’s delegation,” Udall said. “Nobody from New Jersey or New York is going to screw around with it.”
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