IMAGINING FISHERS PEAK – A MONTHLY JOURNAL – ISSUE VI

What do you want Fishers Peak State Park to mean to you and future generations? Now is the time to speak up!
Fishers Peak State Park
Fishers Peak State Park opened in Oct. 30, 2020, as Colorado’s 42nd state park.
Crystal Dreiling
Park Manager Crystal Dreiling stands with the iconic Fishers Peak in the background.

What does your local state park mean to you?

Growing up in Aurora, Cherry Creek State Park was my local state park and an extension of my backyard. To be brutally honest, I viewed Cherry Creek as the closest safe, clean outdoor space for my three brothers and me and a refuge from our ramshackle townhome in a high-crime neighborhood.

Cherry Creek State Park is an oasis of prairie lands, cottonwood groves, wetlands, and streams pouring into a modest but very busy reservoir amid a booming metro area. Even 20 years ago, Cherry Creek State Park was immediately surrounded by shopping centers, restaurants, housing developments, major streets and noisy highways. 

To reach our beloved oasis, we waited in long lines of vehicles, idling in the blazing summer sun, just to get through the front gates of the park. Things haven’t changed much in the two decades since. Then, as now, Cherry Creek was often at capacity during weekends and holidays. But we didn’t mind the wait. Our oasis promised a refreshing reprieve from the concrete and crowds that surrounded us daily.

If a ride wasn’t available, my brothers and I could walk or bike onto the park, eagerly trading the sounds of roaring engines and blaring horns for the confident songs of tiny birds, and for the whisper of a summer breeze swirling through the broad green leaves of tall, strong trees that lined every road and nearly every trail.

Cherry Creek State Park is where I learned to swim and build a campfire. It’s where I saw my first herd of deer, and came face-to-face with a bold, curious coyote one unforgettable day. It’s where my brothers and I investigated countless ponds and creeks until the stars came out. 

It was where our entire extended family spent nearly every summer weekend boating, camping, biking, picnicking and playing in the sand. It was the location of my first volunteer “job” as a stable hand for the on-park livery, and it’s where I began my career with state parks as a seasonal boat ranger.

In so many ways, our local state park provided the framework for our strong family bonds. It’s where I learned to feel safe and comfortable in the outdoors. And it clearly shaped who I am today.

So today I ask: What do you want our newest state park to mean to you? What should it mean to your children, and to your grandchildren?

Now is the time to speak up. 

Photo shows her with four members of the boat patrol team and another shows a large group of fulltime and seasonal park rangers in 2003.
Pictured in this photo, Crystal with four members of the 2003 Cherry Creek state park boat patrol team. Crystal grew up near Cherry Creek State Park in the Denver area and was a frequent visitor. For her, Cherry Creek was an oasis of prairie lands, cottonwood groves, wetlands, and streams. Her experiences there inspired her to become a park ranger. And she wants the public to help plan Fishers Peak State Park so others can grow up with similar memories of Colorado’s newest state park. 

The Fishers Peak State Park master planning effort will soon host a variety of interest group discussions for governmental and non-governmental organizations and businesses with knowledge and expertise relevant to our newest state park. In recent weeks, over 120 applications for interest group involvement have poured in from local and statewide organizations. 

Once formed by relevant interest, these groups will work to brainstorm and share ideas for the park’s master plan. 

The important work of the interest groups will then be added to our existing Science and Outdoor Recreation Workgroup, and our local Trinidad Workgroup.

For individuals wanting to share their personal vision for Fishers Peak State Park, there is an on-going opportunity to send in development ideas and other comments via our park website, and through the survey link provided on our signage at the Fishers Peak Trailhead. Also, the master planning team will be launching a public survey in the coming months, along with two additional public meetings regarding our planning process in 2021.

I am proud and excited to share with you two other very important components of our project’s outreach: our Inclusivity Expert Review Panel and our tribal engagement efforts.

As a part of our commitment to ensuring equity in the master planning process for Fishers Peak State Park, we have created an Inclusivity Expert Review Panel to review our public engagement and communications plan. 

The goal of the engagement plan is to connect with stakeholders who are historically underrepresented in planning processes, especially people who may be more difficult to reach through traditional outreach methods such as public meetings, stakeholder groups, surveys, social media, etc. 

This expert review panel has been asked to identify barriers to participation and to assist in the development of a truly inclusive and robust engagement and communications plan. 

I am looking forward to some of this group’s initial reporting in the weeks to come, and hope to share their insights in my coming articles.

Finally, one of my favorite aspects of our master plan’s outreach efforts has been our new and improved approach to tribal engagement.

In October 2020, Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, invited any Native American tribe with a connection to what is now Fishers Peak State Park to participate in the planning and development of the new state park. 

While engaging Native American tribes in the planning of a state park is not a new concept for CPW, this model of relationship-building and meaningful collaboration at such an early stage of planning for a state park is very exciting.

Our planning team is currently working to understand the connections and relationships between Native Americans and the Fishers Peak landscape. We will discuss and plan for opportunities to support tribal interests in the park, and will work to incorporate tribal advice and recommendations into development decisions. 

I hope that you are thinking about your favorite outdoor space right about now, and maybe even thinking about your local state park. 

And as I get back to work on your newest state park, I hope that some of what you love about your favorite outdoor space inspires you to share with us your hopes and visions for Fishers Peak State Park.

Crystal Dreiling in 2003 when she was a seasonal park ranger
Crystal Dreiling in 2003 when she was a seasonal park ranger at Cherry Creek State Park. Crystal sixth from the left, leaning against the patrol car.

Written by Crystal Dreiling. Crystal Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Fishers Peak/Trinidad Lake Park Manager. Editor’s Note: This is a regular monthly column from Colorado Parks and Wildlife about the creation of Fishers Peak State Park near Trinidad by a career park manager. 

9 Responses

  1. Would like to see this property made into a separate unit for the hunting draws, please be inclusive of the older generation with mobility issues and allow some motorized use, such as it was in the ranching for wildlife concept as Crazy French, should be a great place to hunt and enjoy the outdoors.

  2. Keep it as natural and protected as possible especially for wildlife, so people who don’t often get to see wildlife in their natural habitat. A place of peace and quiet to go to away from lifes demands. Everyone seems to want to develop land, let’s leave it as is, with as little development as possible.

  3. Id love to see bicycle trails. Trails based on experience and maybe some informational signs along the way

  4. I agree with Jeannette. Start with the nature preserve concept and improve from there. No bicycles please. A nature preserve is not a place for a race track. Hiking can be a quiet and peaceful activity but noise and large groups scare away wildlife and ruin the peace for everyone. Institute group hiking limits to a small number. Be serious about Leave No Trace rules and do everything possible to stop social trails and short cutting. Many of the parks and trails on the front range no matter the ownership are in bad shape. Now is a chance to create a true preserve,

  5. Agree with Ed and Jeannette. Preserve flora and fauna. There are plenty of areas elsewhere for cycling and hunting. Give people a place for quiet and reflection and the opportunity to experience wildness. This will ensure this wonderful place will be there for the enjoyment of future generations.

    One thing I think is important is taking steps to preserve the night sky with minimal artificial lighting.

  6. Fisher Peak State Park is going to be a long drive from almost everywhere in the state therefore, I would think that a campground would be a great addition as anyone driving that far would want to stay at least a few days to enjoy all the features offered at the park.

  7. Agree with some previous responses: Hiking, Camping, NO bicycles. Leave it as pristine as possible. Way too much of Colorado is getting developed.

  8. What a pristine jewel. What a gorgeous trophy for Trinidad, Colorado.

    In 2015, a close friend bought a second home in Trinidad. With a south facing front porch pointed directly at the peak, not a sunset has gone by that we haven’t mused about Fisher’s Peak as a recreational resource, and a necessary addition to sustain Trinidad’s economy for the day when cannabis, widely legal, may see that part of Trinidad’s visitor economy settle back a bit.

    Trails and natural lands recreational advocacy should embrace as many users as the resource can sustainably maintain – make a big tent as they say. Early surveys indicate the primary draw, recreationally, will be hiking and peak bagging, getting to the top of Fisher’s Peak.

    I hope the master planning process remains open to all potential trail users, including biking, and equestrian. Maybe not on the same trails, possibly not all to the top, but embracing the full spectrum of users who stand to benefit recreationally from this wonderful addition to the Colorado State Park system.

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