Local denied permit for peace flag
FRISCO – The U.S. Forest Service last week denied permission for Doug Malkan to place a peace flag alongside an American flag atop Peak 1.
The American flag was originally erected on Peak 1 Sept. 16, 2001, five days after the terrorist attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., in honor of those who died. Each year, hikers summit the peak to replace the flag, which after a winter on the blustery peak, is weather-worn.
A few days after they replaced the flag last month, however, someone burned the new flag, leaving behind handwritten notes and computer printouts denouncing the war in Iraq. Law enforcement officials have not arrested anyone in that incident.
In the interim, scores of people have ascended the 12,805-foot peak and erected flags of their own – including one donated by Rep. Scott McInnis that flew over the nation’s capitol. Malkan hoped to be part of those groups, but held off until he could obtain permission from the U.S. Forest Service.
Rick Newton, the Dillon district’s new ranger, sent Malkan a letter this week denying the application, saying the use is not consistent with Forest Service laws, regulations and policies.
“I’m aware there is a memorial on Peak 1,” Newton said. “It was erected without authorization and is a very unique situation that occurred following the Sept. 11, 2001, disaster. If people want to have an event to go up Peak 1 and come back is fine. But leaving things on top of Peak 1 is not appropriate.”
Newton is trying to contact Kurt Kizer, who led the charge to erect an American flag on the peak, and he intends to “resolve the unauthorized status and perhaps identify an alternative, permanent location.”
One such location could be on the Interstate 70, Lake Dillon overlook because it’s accessible to more people than is the grueling hike to the top of Peak 1, Newton said.
“We have numerous memorials in places where we recognize significant points in our history,” Newton said. “A good chunk of our national parks system is just that. Something commemorating contemporary history ought to be placed where a good number of folks can partake of it.”
An additional challenge the Forest Service faces is trying to keep the backcountry as primitive as possible.
Malkan, who said he was the only one who applied for a permit to erect his peace flag, said he wonders why the Forest Service or Sheriff’s Office – both of which reacted when the flag was burned this summer – hasn’t demanded the removal of the dozen or so flags on Peak 1, yet were willing to investigate the flag burning this summer.
“Part of it is we’re going to have to physically go up there and remove some of this stuff,” Newton said. “It’s also a delicate situation. The Forest Service had a lot of direct involvement in that (events of 9-11). But the idea isn’t to squelch someone who had a neat idea to commemorate a significant event in our history.”
Malkan said he hasn’t decided what he’ll do with his flag, which depicts the same red and white stripes as Old Glory, but whose stars are rearranged in the shape of a peace sign.
“We’re working on it,” Newton said. “This is a pretty emotional issue with a lot of folks. But it’s not something that’s going to happen at a snap of the fingers.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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