Governor Polis Opens Fishers Peak State Park
TRINIDAD - In September 2019, Governor Polis announced the goal of providing a meaningful level of public access to the Fishers Peak property by 2021. Today, Governor Jared Polis and Colorado Parks and Wildlife achieved that goal by opening the first trailhead at Colorado’s 42nd State Park, providing initial public access to 250 acres of the property via three trails and a public picnic area.
“I’m thrilled to open Fishers Peak State Park. Together, our administration and the local community are enhancing and protecting the Colorado way of life by ensuring future generations will be able to explore and experience our natural wonders,” said Governor Polis. “Outdoor recreation is an economic engine for Colorado and this park will help create good-paying rural jobs, protect our environment, preserve wildlife habitat, improve access to the outdoors and provide educational opportunities for children.”
“I want to thank The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, GOCO, Mayor Rico and the City of Trinidad, Las Animas County commissioners, state legislators, members of the community, stakeholders, and every person who worked so hard to make this happen,” Gov. Polis concluded.
The property was purchased in February 2019 by The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Lands in collaboration with the City of Trinidad, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), and transferred into state ownership in April 2020.
“Today is a historic day for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Coloradans and in particular the residents of Southern Colorado, “ said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Department of Natural Resources. “The opening of Fishers Peak State Park would not have been possible without the strong support of local governments, businesses, and unique partnerships with non-profit organizations, all coming together with a goal to permanently protect this special place. Colorado’s 42nd and second-largest State Park will ensure the residents of Southern Colorado have a first-class amenity and that the iconic Fishers Peak and its unparalleled wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities will be protected for future generations of Coloradans.”
This “sneak peak” opening of Fishers Peak State Park is only the first step in the multi-year process of providing access to the 19,200-acre property. CPW will continue to work with the local community and other stakeholders in the coming months on a master plan that will guide park development, including future amenities such as camping opportunities and a trail to the peak.
“We see this as an opportunity to educate future stewards of the land,” said Dan Prenzlow, Director, Colorado Parks & Wildlife. “Each generation deserves the chance to learn the importance of the natural resources all around us. We hope Fishers Peak State Park will create a new group of conservationists - botanists, biologists, hunters, wildlife watchers - all of the outdoor enthusiasts that will help ensure we can share these resources for generations to come.”
The Governor, state, and local officials held a ceremony opening the park this afternoon. Gov. Polis also purchased the very first Fishers Peak State Park day pass.
“We are thrilled that the newest state park will bring visitors to Trinidad to enjoy the vast great outdoors,” according to Shoshana Lew, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Transportation. “CDOT is modernizing exit 11 on I-25 so that access to the park will be safe for travelers.”
“We hope this is the beginning of many, many happy trails ahead,” said Lottery Director Tom Seaver. “This is an investment in not just our children’s future, but in the state’s economy — we expect an outstanding return.”
The iconic 9,633-foot Fishers Peak is the highest peak in the United States east of Interstate 25.
“Colorado’s public lands are a core part of what makes our state so special, for both visitors and residents,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “Fishers Peak State Park will not only serve as an economic engine, but it will stand as a regional pillar – allowing locals to finally explore and enjoy this priceless open space for years to come.”
“Southern Colorado has a rich heritage, and we’re proud to protect and honor that by creating this wonderful new state park that will boost economic opportunity across our region,” said Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “I was proud to work across the aisle at the legislature to make this new state park a reality for Coloradans, visitors to our state, and future generations to enjoy and experience.”
CPW has worked throughout the pandemic, dealing with record crowds at its parks and heightened demand for hunting and fishing, to get this corner of the property open so folks can experience a little of what Fishers Peak State Park will have to offer when all phases of design are completed and the park is fully open. Public meetings and surveys will play a role in the planning process moving forward because the State wants to build a park that serves Coloradans’ recreation needs. Visit FishersPeakStatePark.com for more information about the new State Park and how to participate.
“Our town has always been an important stop for travelers and this new addition to the region will enhance the experience for visitors while creating jobs for our residents,” said Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico. “I look forward to the developments in the months and years to come.”
“Trinidad is a strong community experiencing economic growth and excitement,” said Dr. Rhonda Epper, President, Trinidad Junior College. “We look forward to having Fishers Peak State Park as another important attraction in our town.”
The Governor also announced and signed today an Executive Order establishing the Outdoor Regional Partnerships Initiative. This effort will chart a long-term, equitable and sustainable vision for the future of Colorado’s outdoors and outdoor recreation, as we face increasing strains on our lands, wildlife and infrastructure from a growing population and a changing climate. It will also provide for better local collaboration and leadership in creating and implementing this important state-wide vision for our outdoors.
Watch the news conference.
Photos, B-roll of the new state park can be found here.