The 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 Nature Conservancy.

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 Park legislation.”

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.

Back to Archives Page

Subscribe to the Eagle!