Thursday, 9 Jul 2020

Fisher's Peak will become Colorado's newest state park

Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Thursday announced it has completed its acquisition of a property in southern Colorado near Trinidad that will become Colorado’s 42nd state park.

The 19,200-acre parcel (30 square miles) is highlighted by a prominent landmark, Fisher’s Peak, which tops out at 9,633 feet. The peak, an outcrop of ancient lava flows from the Raton Mesa east of Interstate 25, is 6 miles southeast of Trinidad and 7 miles north of the New Mexico border.

The acquisition is the result of a partnership formed in February 2019 involving CPW, the city of Trinidad, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land and Great Outdoors Colorado, according to a CPW news release. In addition to its scenic attributes, the largely undeveloped tract is home to a rich variety of wildlife including elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain lions and black bears.

CPW plans a phased approach to opening.

“We are excited to get people onto Fisher’s Peak, enjoying this amazing property as soon as possible,” Bill Vogrin, public information officer for CPW’s southeast region, wrote in an email to The Denver Post  Thursday. “But we must caution people that a fully developed state park, with the complete suite of amenities that most people are used to, will not be completed quickly. The first stage of limited public access to the property should be completed early in 2021, but no firm timelines have been established and the park remains closed. Given the size and scale of the property, visitors can expect multiple phases of development and new features over the coming months and years.”

“In addition, CPW biologists are studying the property to inventory all the wildlife, learn about ecosystems, assess drainages, habitat opportunities and more,” Vogrin said. “Our engineers must assess it for trails, infrastructure including roads, parking lots, restrooms, campgrounds and facilities. Meanwhile, CPW staff and consultants will inventory the archaeological and cultural resources on the property, which will influence the development of park amenities and be used to create interpretive displays at the park.”

Vogrin said developing the property is a “high priority” for Gov. Jared Polis, who called the acquisition an “exciting milestone” in the news release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Coloradans highly value their open spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities,” Polis said. “Colorado was one of the few states to keep our state parks open during this entire crisis because recreating at a safe space outdoors is a healthy part of our lifestyles. Adding Fisher’s Peak as our next state park will increase opportunities to explore a unique and stunning part of Colorado.”

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