Great Sand Dunes National Park, located in Southern Colorado, is growing by about 9,362 acres after a deal transferred the land from the Medano-Zapata Ranch. The actual cost of the deal between the park and The Nature Conservancy, which previously owned the land, has not been made public. The funds used did come from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, a fund built up by oil and gas drilling royalties.
“The lands being transferred to the park contain important springs and wetlands that support a rich diversity of life. This acquisition marks an important step toward completing the plan for Great Sand Dunes National Park that was established in 2004.” – Great Sand Dunes National Park Superintendent Pamela Rice, according to Fox 31.
The park has acquired 12,500 acres of the ranch’s land since The Nature Conservancy purchased it in 1999, and the remaining 3,200 acres are set to be transferred to Great Sand Dunes in the future. The Nature Conservancy will continue to use the transferred land to keep a permitted bison herd for up to seven more years.
Great Sand Dunes National Park is became a national monument in 1936 and was redesigned as a national park and preserve in 2004. Today, the park is known for having the tallest sand dunes in North America as well as a broad selection of other landscapes, including forest, tundra, wetlands, and more. It’s also an International Dark Sky Park, meaning it’s protected for both it’s quality of starry night sky visibility and nocturnal environment. There are 195 International Dark Sky Parks in the world, 13 of which are in Colorado.