The goal is to open access to the public by 2021.
We're getting a new state park! In a ceremony on Thursday afternoon, Governor Polis signed an executive order to make the Fisher's Peak and Crazy French Ranch near Trinidad Colorado's first State Park since Staunton Park opened in 2013. It will be the 42nd official state park in Colorado, as well as the second largest.
The iconic Fisher's Peak is the highest peak in the U.S. east of I-25, standing at 9,663 feet. It's long been an area that local residents and statewide travelers have wanted to access, joining the access that New Mexico residents already have. Now, that dream is one step closer to reality, opening over 19,000 acres to public use in Colorado.
The land was previously owned by The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land who worked with the residents of Trinidad and the state to ensure the park both conserved nature and met the economic needs of local residents. The plan is to transfer that land to public ownership in partnership with the City of Trinidad, Great Outdoors Colorado, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).
"Before the property can formally become a state park, a master plan needs to be developed for land management. The project partners are working on developing that plan, which will involve substantial public input and ensure protection of the important habitat and natural features of this landscape while allowing for meaningful recreation experiences on the property," said CPW.
Learn a little more about the newest park, courtesy of the CPW Facebook page.
In a press conference announcing the park, Governor Polis said that visitation to our state parks has increased from 11.9 million visitor days to 15 million visitor days in the last five years. That's a lot for the state's parks to handle, and the Fisher's Peak park is part of the plan to offer more outdoor opportunities for residents while also easing the crowding at parks statewide.
In addition, the proposed park will offer several other benefits, including an economic boost to Trinidad and southern Colorado communities. It also connects the grasslands to the east with the foothills and mountains, creating a wildlife preservation corridor that spans both Colorado and New Mexico which is important for several species, including elk, deer, and more.
"Here in Colorado, our public lands are an important part of who we are. It's about our identity. It’s about our economy and jobs in the outdoor tourism and recreation industry. And yes, it's about fun," said Gov. Polis during the announcement. "Fisher's Peak will really be one of our iconic and incredible state parks."
Polis says the plan is to have improvements made and visitors in the park no later than January of 2021, but he shared that the hope is to allow access to some areas of the park by fall of 2020.
What do you think about our newest state park? Will you be visiting Fisher's Peak when it opens? Let us know in the comments below!