Public split on making Colorado NM a national park
Written byJACK HEALY, New York Times
In 1906, a vagabond with an eye for beauty named John Otto fell in love with the unscarred land out here. After seeing the sandstone spires and hypnotic canyons that rise above this town, he made a decision: “I’m going to stay and build trails and promote this place,” he wrote, “because it should be a national park.”
A century later, that goal may be near. But it has not come without a fight.
The canyons that enthralled Mr. Otto never quite won the prize of becoming a national park. Instead, they were given the lesser designation of a national monument — one of about 100 nationwide — and named, rather simply, the Colorado National Monument. Mr. Otto served as the first custodian, earning $1 a month.
But over time, local officials began to complain that the monument’s second-class status and humdrum name were keeping visitors at bay. Sometimes, they said, confused tourists would even ask for directions to the statue or plaque, because wasn’t this place some kind of monument to something?
So last year, in stepped the federal government with an idea that would have delighted John Otto: make the Colorado National Monument a full national park. Or at the very least, give it a more evocative name, something that conjures canyons the color of sunset instead of a dusty obelisk in the middle of the desert.VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE