BOBBY MAGILL

Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a senior science writer for Climate Central in New York and a journalist who has covered fracking and the environment in Colorado and New Mexico since 2001. 

Cutting (Gutting?) the Caretakers of Canyon Country

I just ran across this story from Channel 8 in Grand Junction which speculates about how federal budget cutting will force Colorado National Monument to cut costs and possibly reduce services. Of course, nobody knows just yet specifically how any National Park Service budget cuts would impact the NPS's ability to manage national parks and provide services to visitors.

The KJCT story reminded me that the National Parks Conservation Association just released a report about how gutting the NPS budget will impact your local national parks. The NPCA speculates that science programs forming the backbone of the park service's conservation efforts could be gutted or eliminated; visitor centers could reduce hours or close altogether and a slew of other changes could drive tourists away from parks. The report is well worth a read.

That report and the Utah-based film, "Plan 10 from Outer Space" ("Rocky Horror meets the Mormons!"), which a friend of mine showed us last night, got me thinking about canyon country. November is a fine time to visit Canyonlands National Park and Colorado National Monument, though I'd avoid Moab over Thanksgiving because on the lonely Thanksgiving evening I spent there a few years ago, I discovered the only available food was at the local Denny's, where the line was 50 people deep.

It was about this time four years ago when my friend Chas and I hiked the Rattlesnake Arches in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness west of Grand Junction. It's a mighty fine hike through the highest concentration of natural arches in the world outside of Arches National Park, which is just down the highway.

But my favorite hike in the region is Mee Canyon, where you will find yourself suddenly in the giant Mee Canyon Alcove, where the wash at the bottom of the canyon inserts itself 300 into the canyon wall, creating a cave-like alcove said to be the largest or, at least, one of the largest anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. November is an excellent month to visit. Check out my photo album of my 2007 hike into Mee Canyon here.