PETITION TO MAKE THE COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT THE NATION'S 60TH NATIONAL PARK:
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".