Greens scratching their heads over McInnis honor | AspenTimes.com

Greens scratching their heads over McInnis honor

Steve Benson

Sunday’s announcement that the Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area near Grand Junction will be renamed to honor outgoing U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis has some local environmentalists shaking their heads. Sloan Shoemaker, executive director of the Wilderness Workshop in Aspen, referred to the move as ego-driven and a disservice to true conservationists. “A lot of work goes on long before anything is embodied in a piece of legislation,” he said. “By putting one person’s name on it, it ignores the contributions made long before the congressman got involved.

“It doesn’t reward those who ought to be rewarded.” The U.S. Senate voted Sunday to rename the land west of the Colorado National Monument the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. McInnis, a Republican who has represented Colorado’s 3rd District for the past 12 years, authored the bill that designated the 122,000-acre conservation area in 2000. But Shoemaker said that was really just a smokescreen. McInnis’ true intentions were to prevent the area from reaching national monument or wilderness designation, either of which would provide additional protection, he said.

“What he did was figure out a way to hold off that designation,” Shoemaker said. “It’s diluted protection. It’s weaker than wilderness or national monument [status] and that’s the reason he [acted].” But not all environmentalists are upset by the name change.”The important thing is whether something is saved,” said local environmentalist Connie Harvey. “I don’t have a big problem with it.” Tony Hershey, a former Aspen city councilman, said the designation was entirely deserved.

“He’s always been a conservationist in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt. He doesn’t save every tree but he conserves,” he said. “He’s been a great congressman and great for Colorado. It’s highly appropriate and I’m glad to read about it.” Shoemaker doesn’t think McInnis should accept the name change. “If he had a shred of decency left he would refuse that so-called honor,” he said. “He should set the ego aside and derail this thing.” Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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