RBC I U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, chairman of the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee, said the results of a recent public comment period about a proposal to redesignate the Colorado National Monument as a national park show the need for continued community dialogue.
Udall said that although this rules out legislation over the short term, the community should continue to discuss how a national park designation could help create jobs and protect the Colorado National Monument for future generations.
Udall and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton unveiled a community-driven proposal in April to redesignate the Colorado National Monument as a national park, and they launched a 90-day public-comment period. Udall and Tipton also hosted a town hall meeting on the draft bill in May. The comment period showed that the community was still deeply divided over the bill, developed by a community drafting committee.
“From the days of John Otto and the Colorado National Monument’s founding, Coloradans have debated whether it should become a national park,” Udall said. “Although the results of the comment period show more consensus is needed before we can move forward with legislation, this is a discussion community leaders, business owners and residents should continue to have.
“In the meantime, I will continue to fight in Congress to ensure the National Park Service works closely with the community and local residents to keep the monument a vital part of Mesa County and the Western Slope,” he said.
The recently-concluded public-comment period built on years of work to consider the Colorado National Monument’s future. Udall and Tipton created a local executive committee in June 2013 to craft a draft proposal to redesignate the Colorado National Monument as a national park.
The drafting committee’s work followed more than a year’s worth of work by the Colorado National Monument working group, which explored the implications, benefits and possible issues of redesignating the monument as a park.