Ain’t That Good News?: Colorado Adds 19,200 Acre State Park for 55 1/2 Square Miles of Connected Public Lands

Fisher’s Peak

In all our discussions of the controversies of federal forest planning, protection and recreation (carving up the federal public land pie), it’s nice to see people who are making the pie bigger.  I see so many large foundations (e.g. Pew) funding communications efforts to get people to “vote to protect” or “public comment to protect” federal public lands.  What would happen if they used that same funding to buy out ranchers and go directly to  “protect?”

Kudos to The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land, as well as the State of Colorado. Here’s the most recent Colorado Springs Gazette story.

Hopes have been high since the start of the year, soon after the massive acquisition was announced: Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado put down $14.5 million for the 19,200 acres, with nonprofits the Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Land pledging the rest of the $25 million cost.

“Here at Fisher’s Peak,” the governor said before the thronelike monolith, “this is going to be one of the crown gems of our state park system.”

Only State Forest outsizes the yet-to-be-named park. And with Crazy French Ranch, stewards have achieved an even greater mosaic: Nearby is Trinidad Lake, and over Fisher’s ridge are two state wildlife areas, and beyond that is New Mexico’s Sugarite Canyon State Park. That’s 55 1/2 square miles of preservation.

From TNC here:

The plan is to permanently protect the outstanding wildlife habitat while supporting the local economy by creating a publicly owned recreation and education area.

“We hope to raise the bar for combining conservation and recreation,” says Matt Moorhead, conservation partnerships director for TNC in Colorado.

The Fisher’s Peak Project partners will now work together with community members and stakeholders on a planning process for the land that includes conservation of the landscape’s wondrous natural resources, well-managed recreational access and educational use. After the planning process is complete, the partners plan to transfer the property to public ownership.

Moorhead says, “By planning for both ecological and recreational goals from the ground floor, we’ll strive to show how solid conservation outcomes contribute to an economically thriving community, all while connecting future generations to nature.”

Might be interesting to observe how these partners work their planning process.

1 thought on “Ain’t That Good News?: Colorado Adds 19,200 Acre State Park for 55 1/2 Square Miles of Connected Public Lands”

  1. Buying private property doesn’t necessarily protect public lands, but I agree in specific cases the geography might lead to that, or if a ranch is the base property for a federal permit, it could (not must) lead to retirement of allotments. But Pew doesn’t need to drive in TNC/TPL’s lanes because if people want their money used for land/easement purchases (instead of protecting public lands), those kinds of groups are who they would donate to.


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