TRINIDAD — A Senate Bill supporting the development of a new state park at Fishers Peak near Trinidad passed this weekend, albeit with a much smaller price tag than originally intended.
SB20-003 originally called for $10 million to support the creation of the park ($4 million) and for other projects. Due to budget concerns related to COVID-19, the total amount dwindled to $6 million with $1 million allocated for Fishers Peak. The funding is coming from cuts to the governor's information technology program.
The available funds are intended to be used by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop trails and infrastructure on the 19,600-acre property, according to a release from the organization.
“We extend our sincere gratitude to the Legislature for recognizing the value of investing in Colorado’s state parks,” said Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “As we’ve all worked through the many challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, including budgetary challenges, one constant was the ability for people to center themselves a bit in nature while visiting our parks. Having this investment in our next state park will allow us to provide even more of Colorado’s outdoors to our residents and visitors.”
Governor Polis signed an executive order for the creation of the state's 42nd park in late 2019. The state is working with the City of Trinidad, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, Great Outdoors Colorado, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to utilize the nearly 20,000 acres and Fishers Peak which towers over the area at 9,600 feet in elevation.
The land is home to the landscape Coloradans would expect to enjoy, from grassy meadows, mountains of evergreen trees as well as the perfect habitat for elk, deer, bear, mountain lions and many birds.
The deal to complete the purchase was signed one month ago. The Colorado Lottery helped fund the $24.5 million project with two major Lottery-funded grants. That includes two investments from Great Outdoors Colorado in the amounts of $7,520,000 and $9,750,000. $7 million also came from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“The state’s acquisition of Fishers Peak is an exciting milestone for Colorado outdoor recreationists, wildlife watchers, hunters and residents and businesses of Southern Colorado,” Gov. Jared Polis said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Coloradans highly value their open spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities. 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 Fishers Peak as our next state park will increase opportunities to explore a unique and stunning part of Colorado.”
For now, the property remains closed to public access. But CPW intends a phased approach to opening that will allow limited public access to the property while the master-planning process proceeds and a full state park is developed.
The public can follow the park’s progress and get updates on participating in the planning process at cpw.state.co.us.