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The Colorado National Monument is one of few remaining special places left in the United States to fully qualify for national park status but the effort to make it a national park isn't new.
Back in 1905 a young activist and road builder from California, undoubtedly familiar with Yosemite National Park, journeyed east to the great painted deserts and beautiful but at times treacherous mountains of California, Nevada and Utah then on through the vast and awe inspiring canyon lands of Utah.  All memorable places to be sure, still Otto pressed on until he finally reached Western Colorado.  Here the magical canyons and formations of the Colorado National Monument, literally stopped the wanderer in his tracks.   John Otto lay down his small pack of belongings, set up a tent and a year  later, in 1906 wrote , "I came here last year and found these canyons, and they feel like the heart of the world to me.  I'm going to stay and build trails and promote this place, because it should be a national park."  
President Taft declared it a national monument in 1911 but Otto spent the rest of his life working to make it a national park.  2014 could be the year it finally happens.   Please sign our petition and make the Colorado National Monument America's 60th national park.

In 1907 Otto circulated the first petition to make the canyons a national park and every leader in the Grand Valley of Colorado signed on to make it happen.    Representatives in Congress introduced official legislation but then...Congress hit a slow down.  The slow down threatened the entire process but a plea to President William Howard Taft in 1911 changed that.  President Taft had seen the area and the power of the red rock canyons.  The Antiquities Act did not give him the power to designate a national park but it did and still does give U.S. presidents the ability to create national monuments through a presidential proclamation.
 Though in most minds, a monument typically denotes a type of stone statue or monolith and not the kind of vast, unique, canyons Otto hoped to make a national park,  signing off on a presidential proclamation to make it a national monument was the best President Taft could do to protect the area in some form.
 Today local residents and business leaders have picked up where Otto left off.  There is a new petition to designate the Colorado National Monument a national park, and this time we are the closest we have been in 107 years to making it happen.  
Three years ago Congressman Scott Tipton and Senator Mark Udall appointed an 18  member committee of locals to determine the facts surrounding park status and to answer questions from the community.  Scientists, geologists, The National Park Service, local officials and Congressional researchers all worked to establish the facts.  Following the study committee, in February of 2013, a grassroots effort began to move the process forward.  Then last summer Rep. Tipton and Rep. Udall, in an almost unprecedented move, appointed a 5 member local committee to write draft legislation.  That committee recently finished its work.  Now it is up to Congressman Tipton and Senator Udall to introduce official legislation and bring our community's dream to fruition.
John Otto never knew the area's hanging canyon's were formed unlike any others in the world, it's doubtful he knew tiny tracks embedded in some rocks belonged to a rare prehistoric turtle, or that the prehistoric building structures hidden in some canyons were most likely built by the Fremont Indians and dated back to 10,000 B.C..  It's doubtful he knew he was standing among the oldest and most complete Juniper forests left in the world or that some of the larger Pinyon trees he passed by daily, were more than a thousand years old.  John Otto didn't know any of those things and yet he knew on a deeper, more inherent level these canyons are unique, and as he said, should be studied and shared as a national park.  He carved a portion of the U.S. Constitution in the rocks and not surprisingly was later quoted as saying, "The truth is in the rocks".

Originally posted to GVRCNP on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:15 PM PST.

Also republished by National Parks and Wildlife Refuges and DK GreenRoots.


If the Colorado National Monument is re-designated as a national park what should it be called?

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Comment Preferences

  •  I just looked at the website. (6+ / 0-)

    It really is a beautiful place.  

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:27:51 PM PST

  •  I never got the wonder of COLO (3+ / 0-)

    Every time I've been there I've been underwhelmed compared to other National Parks. Maybe it's the lighting, or the relative inaccessibility of many of the canyons at the time, but it's never been the draw of the Utah parks.

    The potential addition of the Rimrock canyon areas (and removal of McInnis's name by incorporation into the new park) to me make the sale for an upgrade.

    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

    by Phoenix Rising on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:56:56 PM PST

  •  Could be a good idea (6+ / 0-)

    I was going to say that turning the Monument (which is an awesome, fantastic place) into a National Park would mean hordes of tourists and more damage to the resources.

    But then I saw this (pdf):

    The Black Canyon of the Gunnison existed as a National Monument from 1934 until 1999 when it was designated as a National Park by an act of Congress. In the 30 years prior to the designation the Monument saw an annual average of 263,452 visitors per year, while only receiving 179,833 after its designation as a National Park in 1999. Similarly, the Great Sand Dunes National Monument received an annual average of 284,600 visitors in the decade prior designation as National Park, and 276,816 visitors per year on average in the years since.
    So, maybe becoming a national park isn't so bad after all.  And if the boundaries are expanded, then even better.

    The next Noah will work a short shift. - Charles Bowden

    by Scott in NAZ on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:27:17 PM PST

  •  I do not tire of that region. (4+ / 0-)

    Yet, there is so much to be protected nearby.

    My favorite to the West, on the Tonto plateau, is Desolation and Gray Canyons.

    It is pure, magical, wilderness.

    I've done it in my solo canoe - but that was an outfitted whitewater boat.

    The views of the Wasatch and Green River formations are spectacular.

    But then, after camping at Colorado National Monument, I've done the very easy trip on the Colorado, camping at Black Rocks.  Beautiful scenery.

  •  It should be a National Park. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldpotsmuggler, RiveroftheWest, Woody

    I signed the petition. Rec'd, tipped, shared on google and facebook, so more people would sign the petition.

    Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

    by rebel ga on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 04:25:03 PM PST

  •  I've never been there, but by your description (0+ / 0-)

    it sounds like an amazing place worth protection.

    Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

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    by peregrine kate on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:08:07 PM PST

  •   well they have been trying to upgrade it for some (0+ / 0-)

    time. I favor upgrading it, and adding more national parks. la bajada Mesa, Kofa/cabeza Pretia, Bristol Bay, the north Woods of maine, the Great Lakes and Cheasapeake Bay, all deserve protection.

  •  Glad to see your support for a new NP. (0+ / 0-)

    However, I don't think redesignation without expansion is a good idea. The existing National Monument is a spectacular place, but it does not encompass entire ecosystems, cultural landscapes, enough backcountry for expansive wilderness recreation, or enough land to buffer the Monument against damaging activities on adjacent lands. Most of those adjacent lands are owned by the American people, but they are being mismanaged by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.

    What is needed is a much bigger National Park that includes not only Colorado National Monument, but also those adjacent, inadequately protected Bureau of Land Management and National Forest lands. Such a park could protect more than 700,000 acres of public land — an area bigger than Yosemite National Park.

    BLM additions should include lands in Colorado and Utah, such as Colorado (McInnis) Canyons National Conservation Area and Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and Dominguez Canyon Wilderness, and proposed wilderness areas including Kings Canyon, Westwater Canyon, Bangs Canyon, Robideau Addition (Camel Back WSA), and connecting lands.

    National Forest additions should include Colorado's Robideau Roadless Area in the Uncompaghre National Forest, and other connecting lands.

    None of these adjacent lands have the level of protection that a National Park would provide. Damaging activities on these lands are undermining the integrity of the existing National Monument and would degrade the value of a small National Park.

    Of course, there would be the predictable opposition to stronger National Park protection of the BLM and National Forest lands. But, with political support for National Park redesignation running pretty high, now is the time to aim high for a National Park that would truly be one of the crown jewels of the National Park System

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