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Hiking Bob: Fishers Peak land acquisition; El Paso County campgrounds re-open 

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Just in time for Colorado Public Lands Day, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced on March 14, 2020 the acquisition of 19,200 acres of ranch land that will become Fishers Peak State Park, near Trinidad, Colorado.  CPW entered into an agreement with Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the city of Trinidad, the Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land in February of 2019 to purchase the sprawling ranch, to include the 9,633-foot summit that towers over the city and Raton Pass, and which will be Colorado's 42nd state park. The partners signed over the property to CPW on April 2 of this year, according to a news release announcing the acquisition.

Although there was a faint glimmer of hope that the park would be open this year to limited use, it now appears that will occur a little later. "The first stage of limited public access to the property should be completed early in 2021, but no firm timelines have been established and the park remains closed. Given the size and scale of the property, visitors can expect multiple phases of development and new features over the coming months and years," said Bill Vogrin, the CPW  Southeast Region Public Information Officer, in a statement.

A laundry list of items have to be completed as the land becomes a state park. According to Vogrin, wildlife biologists will conduct a wildlife inventory and study habitat opportunities, while CPW engineers will assess it for trails and infrastructure including roads, parking lots, restrooms, campgrounds and facilities. The Colorado Department of Transportation will need to assess traffic flow and signage, and "CPW staff and consultants will inventory the archaeological and cultural resources on the property, which will influence the development of park amenities and be used to create interpretive displays at the park", said Vogrin. A consultant has been hired by CPW to conduct a master planning process which will also include soliciting public comment as the project moves along.

"This is not a quick process but know that this is a high priority for our governor and we are working every day to accomplish this goal of opening our new state park." said Vogrin.


In other news, following the lead of Colorado Parks and Wildlife to open some campgrounds in it's state parks, El Paso County Public Health has announced that all public and private campgrounds will be allowed to re-open, with restrictions that follow the state's safer-at-home guidelines.

And finally, while there are a couple of good resources to use to determine which parks or public lands are open or closed due to COVID-19, knowing how busy a park or trailhead is at any particular moment can be a gamble. Never fear, however, as there is a website for that. Healthyparks uses data supplied by Park Rangers and verified ambassadors to display how busy a park or trailhead is, allowing you to avoid places that are too congested. While some information can be a bit old — look closely at when a particular spot was last updated — it is useful for planning.

Be Good. Do Good Things.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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