Could a massive southern Colorado ranch become a state park? It’s an idea just “crazy” enough to work.
The City of Trinidad, The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Lands, GOCO and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are fine-tuning a plan to turn the 19,200-acre Crazy French Ranch into a new economic engine.
Fisher’s Peak looms over every block of this city.
“There are so many views you can get of that peak in town. Like when the clouds are low and it looks like it’s just dangling in midair. That view is part of every day in Trinidad,” Mayor Phil Rico says.
Despite the everyday shadow the basalt-flumed summit casts on the historic town, Fisher’s Peak is privately owned and has never been accessible. Students can’t study its geology. Climbers don’t scale its crags. Hikers aren’t taking in the panoramic views from the highest point in the Raton Mesa and the highest point of any U.S. land to the east.
But the prominent landmark soon could be part of Colorado’s newest state park, welcoming Trinidad residents and all comers. Whether it becomes a state park or not, the 9,360-foot apex of the wildlife-rich, 30-square-mile Crazy French Ranch will open to the public in the next five years, thanks to a one-of-a-kind public-private partnership that promises to recast the economic future of boom-bust Trinidad.
The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land earlier this year acquired the Crazy French Ranch for $25.4 million. They quickly harvested a $7.5 million pledge from Great Outdoors Colorado and $7 million from Colorado Parks and Wildlife toward the $29 million plan that likely will become a new model for building a modern-day state park that offers both recreation and biologically diverse wilderness. The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land — the two largest conservation organizations in the country — have raised another $5 million and are soliciting foundations and donors to support the project.
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