Over the past month, the rangers and staff at the Colorado National Monument have had to deal with criminal activity, serious accidents, and even suicides. Now they say something must be done.
The staff at the monument says it is seriously considering completely shutting down portions of Rim Rock Drive and Cold Shivers Point during the night. They say it's not an easy decision, but that their staff just can't handle everything that has been going on.
On October 30, a woman drove her car off a cliff near Red Canyon at night. On November 11, Park Rangers had to respond to the monument after a car was found in a canyon near the entrance. Less than a week later, the monument staff had to respond to a climber who was stuck on the side of a cliff and a dead body found near Cold Shivers Point. Add that to several reports of underage drinking, finding graffiti on two parts of the monument, and recovering a man who collapsed on a trail, and you've got one worried staff.
"I think it's absolutely tragic that we're seeing this increase in crime, disregard, and vandalism," said monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo.
Anzelmo says these problems that have happened just over the last month have reall stretched her thin resources even thinner.
"It's very taxing on the staff to be called out day after day, after hours on overtime," said Anzelmo. "Ideally, we do need more law enforcement presence here in the monument."
The monument is currently staffed with two park rangers. Anzelmo says she has been working hard to increase that number.
"I hope I can bring that to the monument," said Anzelmo. "But those things do not happen overnight in the federal government."
The staff says, however, that adding more rangers may not be enough.
"We need the community to understand that we have a lot going on and we are limited in how much we can do," said Anzelmo. "That's why I have to look at options like closing Cold Shivers and potentially closing sections of Rim Rock Drive at night."
If this goes through the monument staff would set up several gates along Rim Rock Drive, blocking access to cars. Although it would be an unpopular decision, Anzelmo says it's made in the public's best interest.
"This place is here for everyone to enjoy," said Anzelmo. "We don't want it to become a place that locals in the Grand Valley can't feel comfortable coming."
The staff says it has not made any final decisions on this proposal and that it's still just a thought. If this change were to go through, it would likely happen in the Spring, and the monument staff says it would give the public plenty of advance warning.
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