Crestone Eagle, December 2004:
Congress approves funds, Baca Ranch
deal near completion
by David Nicholas
Finally, the deal for the transfer of the Baca
Ranch from the Nature Conservancy to the Federal Government
is near completion. The final $3.4m needed for closing costs
was included in the 2005 Federal Budget, passed in the waning
hours of the 108th Congress on November 19.
When the funds are released, the Baca will be surrounded
by three federal agencies in the east, south and west. At
that point, both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the
US Forest Service will take possession of the lands designated
by the legislation creating the Great Sand Dunes National
Park and Preserve passed in October of 2000.
The National Park Service has been in control of its portion
of the Baca Ranch, some 13,000 acres, since September when
the Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, declared the Sand
Dunes a National Park on September 13. On October 10 the ownership
of the Baca ranch was transferred from Vaca Partners to The
For Colorado’s US Senators Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse
Campbell, and Scott McInnis, the retiring Congressman of the
3rd Congressional District, this was a remarkable effort,
in a time when Republicans viewed the acquisition of private
property by the Federal Government as anathema.
Senator Allard said the funding "will provide the final
segment of the combined national park and wildlife sanctuary.
It has been my great pleasure to work on this project.”
Congressman McInnis added, “Preserving the abundant
resources, on the surface and beneath the Baca Ranch, is the
single most important component of the Great Sand Dunes National
Also included was funding for the Baca National Wildlife
Refuge, which takes the largest chunk of the Baca Ranch west
of the Subdivision—approximately 62,000 acres.
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