The National Park Service's refusal to allow a professional cycling race to occur within the boundaries of Colorado National Monument has raised questions about the appropriate uses of protected areas. Park Service officials say large gatherings like professional sporting events are not consistent with park policies. Photo courtesy of NPS.
A proposal to route a professional bicycle race through Colorado National Monument has pitted the National Park Service against some powerful congressional and state leaders who argue that running a stage of the 600-mile road race through the monument would provide an economic boon to the region.
Others say approving a stage of the 2012 Quiznos Pro Challenge cycling event in the monument would compromise the Park Service's ability to manage its resources in a way that meets mandates to preserve parks and monuments for future generations. Race proponents, meanwhile, are challenging NPS management policies adopted five years ago that discourage the use of parks and monuments for large-scale commercial events.
NPS has already determined that routing more than 100 professional cyclists through the monument would violate federal statutes and Park Service policies. But the proposed race has some very powerful backers, including Sen. Mark Udall (D) and Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), both of whom recently asked NPS to reconsider Anzelmo's denial.
Additional negotiations on a revised proposal are scheduled to take place tomorrow. But a reversal of the Park Service's decision will likely be met by opposition from groups who believe allowing the race would set a precedent for hosting commercial events in protected areas.