Jim Strub recently stopped on a Facebook comment.
âSomeone commented on how impressed they were with their trip to the new house at the top (Pikes Peak) and the views and stuff,â he recalls. âAnd what they wrote in the comments section was, ‘Why isn’t this a national park? “
âI was like, ‘Oh yeah, why isn’t it? This is because no one bothered to do it.
Strub, 92, is in trouble.
The man who has been a staple of the mountain for five decades decided to explore this daring idea.
Strub has prepared a long proposal for a national park encompassing the Pikes Peak massif. The ideas outlined, he said, arose out of consultation with a small group of knowledgeable and interested people who have remained silent on the topic – hesitant to speak for the organizations they represent when the controversial topic has barely took off.
âThere is a lot of work to be done,â Strub said. âMost of the past year has been spent preparing the proposal, and only recently have we entered the campaign phase. Which is not something I’m used to. I am not political.
But Strub is familiar with America’s Mountain business scams.
He is well connected, having built relationships with regional decision makers and stakeholders since the 1980s. It was at this time that he was appointed Citizen’s Spokesperson on Pikes Peak Highway issues. During this notice, he also joined in talks to open the North Slope Recreation Area. He later advocated for public access to the lakes on the southern slope.
He sat at the table of the Pikes Peak Multi-Use Plan, published in 1999. He spent the next decade plotting the Ring the Peak Trail, which now equates to a 100 mile horseshoe ride around. the mountain. The last loophole is mired in bureaucracy and land disputes.
Strub sees the completion of this loop as a possible national park designation. In the hands of the National Park Service instead of the US Forest Service, it provides “much broader” recreation on a playground it maps between 195 and 236 square miles.
The National Park Service’s legal mandate is different, Strub said, “For the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.”
The Forest Service “just doesn’t have the time and money to do anything other than what it has to do, mainly fire mitigation,” Strub said. âThis is not meant to be critical of anyone in the Forest Service. It’s just the basic mission.
He envisions that the massif’s less adventurous canyons, drainages, corridors and peaks will become more accessible – “gems that hardly anyone can access except those I call the intrepid,” Strub said. The proposal points to park portals at the current highway tollgate, Crags Campground, and the Gold Camp Road exit in the Cripple Creek area.
But the proposal fails to resolve a number of foreseeable conflicts, not least of which is the city of Colorado Springs’ lucrative business based on the freeway. Aramark and The Broadmoor represent other business interests. Strub’s proposal notes that Colorado Springs Utilities controls at least 10% of the land within the proposed boundaries.
Any new National Park Service unit is under intense scrutiny – a process that in recent years has taken at least a few years, according to the Congressional Research Service, the agency providing a non-partisan review of policies. Congress must first authorize a study.
“It is generally considered difficult to meet the criteria and obtain the support and funding from Congress to expand the national park system,” reads an analysis by the Congressional Research Service.
The law requires the park department to determine âwhether an area is of national importanceâ and would be an âappropriate and feasibleâ addition; if an area represents âthemes, sites or resources that are not already sufficiently represented in the park departmentâ; and meets a certain threshold of âpopular demandâ. If the boxes are checked, the proposals are sent back to Congress for consideration.
Strub looks around 1917 for the last time that a national park around Pikes Peak was seriously considered. Representative Charles Timberlake claimed that Pikes Peak was “without a doubt America’s most famous mountain” and “indelibly interwoven in the romance, history and development of the West”.
Strub suspects that the idea for Timberlake “may have gotten lost in the turmoil of World War I.”
Such an effort is âvery demanding,â Strub said, âand I never expected to spend my last few years doing something like this. “
At 92, he doesn’t expect to see his dream come true. “But I would at least like to see the study begin,” he said.
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