Cycling Competition Would Limit Access to Park Unit for Visitors, Commercialize a Publically-Owned Site, and Create Excessive Stress on a Protected Environment
Statement by David Nimkin, Senior Southwest Regional Office Director
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The following statement by NPCA Southwest Regional Director David Nimkin is in response to and in support of the National Park Service’s (NPS) and Colorado National Monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert’s decision to prevent the temporary closure of the park for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge cycling race. The decision aligns with the established policy set forth in the 2006 National Park Service Management Policies and Code of Federal Regulations for national parks sites through the National Park System.
“This decision by the National Park Service and Superintendent Eckert falls directly in line with the science-based and fair access policies set forth to preserve the integrity of our park system. As was iterated less than two years ago, when NPS and then Superintendent Joan Anzelmo issued a nearly identical denial for the event in 2011, holding this race in Colorado National Monument would cut off the major transportation stem that goes through the park, closing the park for up to six hours and restricting visitor access to this national treasure. This decision by Park Service leaders works to protect Colorado National Monument from actions that are commercial in nature and not intrinsic to the operations of the park.
“As the Park Service and Superintendent Eckert have pointed out, the purpose of a national park unit is to preserve that unique and special place to the largest extent possible and to enhance visitor understanding and enjoyment of the attributes for which that park was designated. An event like this, which would largely immobilize the site for non-spectator visitors, fails to do that on all levels. Colorado National Monument is a special place and should be enjoyed as such, not used as a backdrop for large for-profit events. But the opportunity still exists for the race organizers to find an alternative that the park supports that could allow a short “victory lap” within the park while not requiring any specific park closures or needing a commercial alignment with the park and race sponsors.
“We applaud the decision of Superintendent Lisa Eckert and the National Park Service. Holding a commercial event at Colorado National Monument would have set a dangerous precedent. We must draw the line at commercializing our national parks to ensure they remain protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy.”
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