Move to Name Peak for John Denver Hits Snag

Federal policy places restrictions on features in wilderness areas
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 9, 2011 8:52 AM CDT
In this May 13, 2004 file photo, clouds swirl around Mount Sopris as the peak hangs over a subdivision south of Glenwood Springs, Colo.   (DAVID ZALUBOWSKI)
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(Newser) – It sounded like a good idea: Thousands of Coloradans have signed a petition to honor environmentalist and "Rocky Mountain High" singer John Denver by naming a peak after him, a 12,965-foot mountain in the central Rockies close to where Denver penned the song. But federal policy is to avoid adding names to peaks in federal wilderness areas, and Mount Sopris, a majestic volcanic summit west of Aspen, is in one.

Applying new names to features in wilderness areas detracts from the wilderness experience, argues an official with the US Board on Geographic Names, adding that exceptions can be made for safety or educational reasons. Other supporters prefer a different place to recognize the revered singer, while others oppose the idea because they just don't like the music of Denver, who was killed in a California plane crash in 1997. Application documents are being sent to the board, which is based in Reston, Va; a review process could take up to a year.

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