News

For Immediate Release – July 19, 2017
Katherine Faz: 719-378-6341

Park Continues to Manage the Lightning-caused Castle Creek Fire


The Castle Creek fire started approximately at 4:00pm on July 12 near the area burned in the 2010 Medano fire in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area of Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. The half-acre lightning-caused fire is burning at 11,000 feet in steep and rough terrain and poses minimal impacts to visitors. The National Park Service, in cooperation with the San Luis Valley Interagency Fire Management Unit and the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, continues to manage the Castle Creek Fire in the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness Area within the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve.

Fire personnel developed short and long term management strategies while tracking its ignition. The recent precipitation since July 12 has been 1.96 inches at that elevation due to the summer monsoon season which has contributed to a decrease in fire behavior. On Sunday, July 16, an infrared overflight by the Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s Multi-mission Aircraft detected only one heat source. At this time, fire personnel continue to track the fire behavior and implement management strategies taking into consideration access to the remote terrain, safety of firefighters, available resources, as well as current and expected fire behavior.

Wildland fires at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve contribute to healthy forest ecosystems. The National Park Service uses wildland fires as a tool to restore fire’s role as a dynamic and necessary natural process in maintaining healthy and sustainable ecosystems while protecting lives, property and natural and cultural resources. To learn more about fire management in national park units, visit www.nps.gov/fire

Great Sand Dunes will continue to provide updates on significant management decisions on the park’s website. For more information on the Castle Creek fire, contact Kathy Faz, Public Information Officer, at 719-582-0258.

-NPS-

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For Immediate Release – July 14, 2017
Katherine Faz: 719-378-6341

Park Manages Lightning-caused Castle Creek Fire


The National Park Service, in cooperation with the San Luis Valley Interagency Fire Management Unit and the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, is actively managing the lightning-caused Castle Creek Fire in the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness Area within the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. Adjacent to the 2010 Medano Fire burn scar, the fire is burning at an approximate elevation of 11,000’ in steep and rough terrain. The fire started at approximately 4 pm on July 12 in mixed conifer vegetation.
The fire is estimated at one-half acre. Currently, there are no natural or cultural resources at risk and there are only minimal impacts to visitors. Based on current fire activity and predicted weather this weekend, fire personnel will continue to develop short and long term management strategies while tracking fire behavior. Management strategies will consider access to the remote terrain, safety of firefighters, available resources, as well as current and expected fire behavior.
Wildland fires contribute to healthy forest ecosystems. Wildfires are often used as a tool to restore fire’s role as a dynamic and necessary natural process in maintaining healthy and sustainable ecosystems while protecting lives, property and natural and cultural resources. To learn more about fire management in national park units, visit www.nps.gov/fire
Great Sand Dunes will provide updates on significant management decisions on the park’s website. For more information on the Castle Creek fire, contact Kathy Faz, Public Information Officer, at 719-582-0258.
-NPS-
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For Immediate Release

June 28, 2017

General Press inquiries: Katherine Faz, Public Information Officer, 719-582-0258 or kathy_faz@nps.gov

The Body of a Missing Hiker within Great Sand Dunes National Preserve is Identified


Today the Saguache County Coroner identified a body discovered by hikers in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve as Bryan Skilinski of Phoenix, NY.

Skilinski was last seen on May 8, 2017 departing from the Sand Pit Picnic Area in the National Park. A park ranger discovered his vehicle parked in the lot and a multi-agency search effort was initiated. The search response was delayed because Skilinski did not obtain a permit or leave an itinerary of his trip with family and his destination or whereabouts were unknown.

Hikers discovered the deceased near Milwaukee Peak in the National Preserve on Monday and efforts were initiated to recover the victim’s body. Due to deep, heavy snow at lower elevations the area that Skilinski was located had not been searched by teams. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve encompasses more than 140,000 acres including rugged high altitude and wilderness terrain.

The Coroner’s Office has not released a cause of death in the case and the incident remains under investigation. No foul play is suspected.

The park’s staff has been in close contact with the victim’s family since May and extends gratitude to the agencies that assisted with the search in May as well as the recovery. These agencies include: the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office, Saguache County Coroner, Custer County Sheriff’s Office, Saguache County Search and Rescue, Custer County Search and Rescue, Western Mountain Rescue, US Forest Service Monument Heli tack, Flight for Life, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s Multi Mission Aircraft as well as dog teams from Larimer, Park and El Paso Counties.

Park visitors are encouraged to alert loved ones or park staff to their hiking plans when visiting remote locations.

Media inquiries should be directed to Public Information Officer, Kathy Faz at 719-582-0258.

-NPS-

Tourism to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve creates $28 million in Economic Benefits

Report shows visitor spending supports 348 jobs in local economy

Mosca, CO – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 388,807 visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in 2016 spent $23,701,000 in communities near the park. That spending supported 348 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $28 million.

“We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides”, said Acting Superintendent Scott Stonum. “NPS employees care for the parks and interpret the stories of these iconic natural, cultural and historic landscapes, but it takes our nearby communities to fully provide our visitors with food, lodging and other services that complete a national park experience.” In 2016, Great Sand Dunes saw a 30% increase in visitation due to increase media attention for the National Park Service Centennial celebrations, Medano creek flow, lower gas prices, and the increase in population within the state. The park supported a variety of programs and special events for the Centennial throughout the summer and fall months to accommodate the increase in visitors, which in turn contributed to more visitors enjoying the local community.

The report shows $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,544 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $ 34.9 billion.

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5%).

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis and interactive tool was created by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies, and also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: go.nps.gov/vse.

To learn more about national parks in Colorado and how the National Park Service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/Colorado. For more information about the economic benefits of Great Sand Dunes, contact Kathy Faz at kathy_faz@nps.gov or 719-378-6341.

 
Kathy and Willa celebrate Every Kid in a Park
Great Sand Dunes Park Ranger, Kathy Faz, presents San Luis Valley 4th grader, Willa Seesz-Sanchez with her Every Kid in a Park free access pass.

Great Sand Dunes Welcomes 4th Grade Students through "Every Kid in a Park"

National Program Encourages Families and Classes to Visit National Parks

Great Sand Dunes invites all 4th grade students to visit the park for free as part of the "Every Kid in a Park" program. Fourth grade students can visit www.everykidinapark.gov to complete an activity and obtain a voucher. Bring your voucher to a National Park Service site and exchange it for a free annual entry pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national park units, wildlife refuge areas, and US national forests! View full press release (pdf) >

 
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Last updated: July 20, 2017

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Mailing Address:

Visitor Center
11999 State Highway 150

Mosca, CO 81146

Phone:

(719) 378-6395

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