Fact Sheet: President Clinton: Protecting Colorado's Natural Treasures (11/22/00)
        PRESIDENT CLINTON: PROTECTING COLORADO?S NATURAL TREASURES
                             November 22, 2000

Today, President Clinton signed S. 2547, the Great Sand Dunes National Park
and Preserve Act, protecting a spectacular Colorado landscape shaped by
sand, water, and wind. The area is among the most biologically significant
areas in Colorado, where 700-foot high sand dunes rise against the backdrop
of the rugged, snow capped Rocky Mountains. President Hoover established
the area as a national monument in 1932, which was later enlarged by
Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. President Clinton?s action today
establishes the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the adjacent Great Sand
Dunes Preserve to ensure continued protection and public enjoyment.

Preserving a Natural Treasure
The Great Sand Dunes, together with the associated sand sheet and adjacent
wetlands and uplands, contain a variety of rare ecological, geological,
paleontological, archaeological, scenic, historical, and wildlife
components. The area?s serenity and rural western setting enhance its
beauty, and provide extensive opportunities for education, research, and
recreation.

The President?s action today protects a diverse collection of dune plants,
including Indian rice grass, scurf pea, and the prairie sunflower; and
animals, such as golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, mountain bluebirds,
kangaroo rats, ground squirrels, and mule deer. In addition, the
legislation will help protect rare archaeological sites that tell of
nomadic hunters dating back 11,000 years, and the largest known stand of
ponderosa pine trees in the United States bearing ancient tribal markings.

A New National Park and Preserve for Continued Protection and Enjoyment
Currently, the Great Sand Dunes National Monument covers approximately
38,000 acres in the San Luis Valley of south central Colorado. This area
includes only the dunes themselves, which, at over 700 feet in height, are
the tallest in North America. However, they are only one part of a natural
system that includes the sand sheet, surrounding watershed, and underground
aquifer, all of which contribute to the water flow and sand replenishment
that maintains the dunes. Expanding the boundaries of the national monument
to include the entire natural system, as provided for in S. 2547, will help
to ensure the long-term preservation of the dunes.

The President requested, and Congress provided, $8.4 million in this year?s
budget towards the acquisition of the 100,000-acre Baca Ranch, which adds
to Great Sand Dunes National Monument the size and diversity necessary to
establish the Great Sand Dunes National Park. In addition, the legislation
establishes the Great Sand Dunes Preserve adjacent to the national park
through a land transfer from the Forest Service. The National Park Service
also will administer this preserve, which will remain open to hunters.

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