News

Superintendent Pam Rice with Dunes and Mountains in Background

New Superintendent Arrives at Great Sand Dunes


Pamela Rice, a veteran National Park Service (NPS) manager, has been named superintendent of Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve by Sue Masica, director of the NPS Intermountain Region. Rice, formerly an assistant superintendent at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona and Utah, has already begun her new duties at Great Sand Dunes.

“Pam’s collaborative leadership style, strong communication skills and experience working with park partners, tribes and elected officials make her a great addition to our Great Sand Dunes team,” Masica said.

Rice was assistant superintendent for external affairs at Glen Canyon and Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Her work there included forging a partnership with Page, AZ to manage the heavily visited Horseshoe Bend area and an agreement with air tour operators to manage flights near Rainbow Bridge and other park sites sacred to American Indian tribes.

In 2017, Rice served four months as acting superintendent of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. She also was acting superintendent of Kenai Fjords National Park for four months in 2013.

"I am honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to work at Great Sand Dunes," she said. The park offers such a diversity of recreational opportunities and resources. I look forward to exploring Great Sand Dunes, and to working closely with the local communities, partners, staff, and volunteers in the stewardship of this amazing park."

Rice joined the NPS in 2007 as an interpretive ranger in Alaska, where she had worked for several years for the Bureau of Land Management. She was chief of Interpretation for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve from 2009 to 2015. She then worked two years in legislative affairs in Washington, DC as an NPS Bevinetto Congressional Fellow.

Rice has a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences from Texas A&M University and two master’s degrees – in interpretation and environmental education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and in cross-cultural studies and leadership from Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.
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For Immediate Release: April 13, 2018
Contact: Fred Bunch, Fred_Bunch@nps.gov, 719-378-6361

NPS Seeks Input on Draft Ungulate Management Plan


Mosca, CO – Today the National Park Service (NPS) released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (GRSA) Ungulate Management Plan (draft plan/EIS), which includes a 45-day public comment period that closes May 31, 2018.

The draft plan/EIS analyzes alternatives to manage elk and bison within GRSA that would support long-term protection of resources and that would be compatible with conditions and management activities across the broader eastern San Luis Valley landscape.

During the public comment period, the NPS will host two in-person meetings where staff will be present and discuss information on the draft plan/EIS.

May 9, 2018 (6:00-7:30 p.m.)
Rio Grande Water Conservation District
8805 Independence Way
Alamosa, CO 81101
May 10, 2018 (6:00-7:30 p.m.)
Baca National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters
69812 County Road T
Crestone, CO 81131


The draft plan/EIS will be available for public review and comment online via the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website (http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsa-ungulates) and during public meetings. Comments will also be accepted via mail.

The EIS process began in 2011 with the publication of a Notice of Intent. After receiving input from interested stakeholders, the NPS revised the scope of the draft plan/EIS and conducted a second round of scoping in 2015. The comments the NPS received at that time were used to help inform and develop the alternatives that are now included in the draft plan/EIS. Similarly, the NPS will use the comments received on the draft plan/EIS to develop the final plan/EIS.

“The National Park Service has an important opportunity to work with state and federal partners to manage elk to improve habitat conditions in wetland and riparian areas of the park while also contributing to broader objectives for elk in the San Luis Valley,” said Great Sand Dunes Acting Superintendent Tucker Blythe. “In addition, the National Park Service is in the unique position to further the bison conservation legacy of The Nature Conservancy in the valley while also contributing to the Department of the Interior Bison Conservation Initiative. As such, we will continue to work with our stakeholders, the public, and local, state and federal partners to ensure a collaborative final product.”

Elk and bison are on the GRSA landscape today. The elk herd in the eastern San Luis Valley has grown to historically high levels, and approximately 1,700 bison are currently managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on the Medano Ranch. Current evidence suggests that the effects of elk on wetland vegetation communities are a result of disproportionate use of these sensitive habitats (as opposed to overall population abundance). In addition to addressing elk overconcentration, the alternatives provide options for the future management of bison in light of evolving views on bison conservation.

Under the preferred alternative, the NPS proposes a suite of lethal and nonlethal tools to alter elk distribution in the park, while continuing public elk hunting on the preserve. In addition, the NPS would seek to partner with TNC to manage bison for 5 to 7 years following NPS’s acquisition of the Medano Ranch. After this timeframe, the NPS would assume sole responsibility of bison management at a lower density and would use tools such as roundups and translocation, hazing, and lethal removal to manage bison abundance and distribution in the park. Over the long term, the NPS would use an adaptive management framework to manage elk and bison to meet desired conditions for wetland ecological integrity and vegetation.

For more information on the draft plan/EIS, please visit the planning page listed above or plan to attend one of the open house meetings.

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For Immediate Release: April 13, 2018
Contact: Kathy Faz, 719-378-6341

Great Sand Dunes Changes Entrance Fee to Address Infrastructure Needs & Improve Visitor Experience

Mosca, CO – The National Park Service (NPS) announced yesterday that Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve will modify its entrance fees to provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs to enhance the visitor experience. Effective January 1, 2019 the entrance fees (valid for 7 days) to the park will be $25 per vehicle, $15 per person, or $20 per motorcycle. An annual park pass will cost $45.

All of the money received from entrance fees remains with the National Park Service with at least 80 percent of the revenue going to Great Sand Dunes to ensure a quality experience for all who visit. The other 20 percent of entry fee income is shared with other non-fee-charging national parks for their projects.

In response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017, there will be a modest increase for all entrance fee-charging parks, rather than the higher peak-season fees initially proposed only for 17 highly-visited national parks.

“Entrance fees collected at Great Sand Dunes support infrastructure projects that enhance the visitor’s experience,” stated Acting Superintendent Tucker Blythe. “In recent years, the park has been able to use fee revenue to maintain, repair and improve our facilities, enhance essential visitor services such as events and programs, restore critical habitat for the wildlife that visitors come to see and enjoy, and to support our law enforcement rangers in their public safety duties.”

National parks have experienced record breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the last five years. Throughout the country, the combination of an aging infrastructure and increased visitation has put a strain on park roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services and led to a $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog nationwide.

The additional revenue from entrance fees at Great Sand Dunes will support the renovation of the visitor center interior exhibits, upgrades to water distribution lines in the Pinon Flats Campground and the Mosca Creek Picnic Area, the restoration of Rio Grande Cutthroat Fish habitat along Sand Creek, replacement of exterior doors on comfort stations and visitor center, and rehabilitation of the entrance station.

Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199.9 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.

Great Sand Dunes has charged an entrance fee since 1997. The current rate of $20 per vehicle, $10 per person, $15 per motorcycle, or $40 park annual pass has been in effect since January 1, 2018. The park is one of 117 National Park Service site that charges an entrance fee, the other 300 national parks will remain free to enter.

The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.

The National Park Service has a standardized entrance fee structure, composed of four groups based on park size and type. Some parks not yet aligned with the other parks in their category will raise their fees incrementally and fully incorporate the new entrance fee schedule by January 1, 2020.

The complete fee schedule will change according to the following:

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Per
Vehicle

Per
Person

Per
Motorcycle

Park-Specific Annual Pass

Current

$20

$10

$15

$40

Jan 1, 2019

$25

$15

$20

$45

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For Immediate Release

March 29, 2018
Contact: Kathy Faz (719) 378-6341

Changes to Piñon Flats Campground Reservations at Great Sand Dunes


The Piñon Flats Campground at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve will open on Sunday, April 1, 2018 until November 1, 2018. Great Sand Dunes is preparing for another busy camping season and wants to make visitors aware of changes to campground reservations that will be implemented this year.

In the past, the 44 sites in Loop 1 were first-come, first-serve, while advanced reservations were required during the peak season for 44 sites in Loop 2 and 3 group sites. This year, all sites require advance reservation during peak season, May 1 – September 20, due to high demand. During the off season, April 1 – May 1 and September 20 - November 1, Loops 1 and 2 are first-come, first-serve.

The park recommends making a reservation in advance, especially for summer weekend and holiday dates by visiting www.recreation.gov or calling 1877-444-6777. Piñon Flats Campground does not hold any campsites for walk up or first-come, first-served camping during peak season, May 1 – September 20, and does not have a wait list or call back system. Camping in the park requires payment of both camping fees, $20/night, and entrance fees, $20/non-commercial vehicle. Check the park website to see a list of entrance fee passes that allow for a reduced camping rate.

The fees collected at the entrance station and through reservations allow the park to maintain clean campground facilities, complete road and trail maintenance, support staffing to collect and process fees, as well as provide clean restrooms throughout the park.

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For Immediate Release – 12/22/2017

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Increases Entrance Fees Beginning January 1, 2018

After completing a thorough public involvement process, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve will increase its entrance fees on January 1, 2018 in order to align with the National Park Service fee rate schedule and help fund important maintenance and improvement projects within the park. The park's entrance fees were last increased in 2015. This increase is consistent with the tiered fee system in use by National Park Service sites throughout the country, including many in Colorado.

Private Vehicle
Current - $15
Effective January 1, 2018 - $20

Individual (on foot, bicycle or in non-commercial vehicle)
Current - $7
Effective January 1, 2018 - $10

Motorcycle
Current - $10 per motorcycle
Effective January 1, 2018 - $15 per motorcycle

Annual Great Sand Dunes Pass
Current - $30
Effective January 1, 2018 - $40

This increase in fees will allow us to make direct improvements to visitor facilities and continue to protect, preserve, and share the special places here at Great Sand Dunes with current visitors and future generations. After soliciting input from the public and carefully considering the impact of a fee increase on visitors and community members, park management came to the conclusion that this is the right course of action to improve facilities and services that are important to visitors. We want to encourage those who visit the park and preserve frequently to purchase an annual pass. For $40 you will be able to enjoy the park and preserve all year long. It is the best option for returning visitors. If you travel frequently to other national parks, the Interagency Annual Pass is a great bargain for $80. The National Park Service will also continue to host fee free days throughout the year when entrance fees are waived.

Entrance fees paid at the park are retained to enhance and improve the visitor experience. Fees collected at Great Sand Dunes have supported a wide range of projects including; funding the replacement of ADA compliant matting for beach access, rehabilitating trails and trailhead signs, improving park water systems, replacing failed benches in the amphitheater, providing ranger-led programs, and improving accessibility. Additional revenue from this fee increase will enable the park to continue to improve and maintain deteriorating restroom facilities and the aging Piñon Flats Campground, develop and install new exhibits in the visitor center and improve road and trail signs.

In August 2017, to align with the new National Park Service rate schedule, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve launched a civic engagement campaign to solicit public input on the proposed fee change. During the public comment period, the park received no formal comments. For more information, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsa, follow greatsanddunesnps on social media or call Public Information Officer, Katherine Faz at 719-378-6341.

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For Immediate Release – 12/5/2017

Annual Christmas Bird Count at Great Sand Dunes on December 30th

Great Sand Dunes is looking for birders of all skill levels to volunteer in Audubon's longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), held at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on Saturday, December 30th. Great Sand Dunes is one of many locations nationwide participating in this survey. The park is also encouraging those within the count circle who have bird feeders to join in the fun.

Volunteers should meet at 8:30 am at the Great Sand Dunes visitor center conference room (about ½ mile past the entrance station) for hot drinks and snacks. Volunteers will receive free entrance to the Park and Preserve for assisting in the bird count. Interested individuals are encouraged to bring binoculars, cameras, snacks, water, sturdy winter footwear, and bird books, if possible.

To register for the bird count at Great Sand Dunes, visit http://netapp.audubon.org/cbc/public/, and contact Dewane Mosher at 719-378-6363 or dewane_mosher@nps.gov. Dewane will provide a map of the count circle and a winter bird checklist upon registration.

The longest running citizen science survey in the world, Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count takes place nationwide in late December each year. The Christmas Bird Count began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the “side hunt,” a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, it was proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world's most significant citizen-based conservation effort – and a more than century-old institution. The CBC is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere, and the data, which are 100% volunteer generated, have become a crucial part of the U.S. Government’s natural history monitoring database.

Please go to the Audubon website for additional information, news, and history on the Christmas Bird Count: http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 18, 2017
Contact: Katherine Faz, Kathy_Faz@nps.gov, 719-378-6341

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Proposes Entrance Fee Increase

Mosca, CO – Great Sand Dunes National Park is proposing a change to its’ fee rates to align with the new National Park Service rate schedule. The new proposed fee schedule will increase the cost of per person entry (for visitors bicycling or walking through the Entrance Station); the annual Great Sand Dunes Pass; as well as the cost for per vehicle entry, non-commercial (family) vehicles; and an increase in fees for motorcycles. The entrance fee changes and their implementation would be as follows:

Current
Annual Great Sand Dunes Pass - $30
Per Vehicle (private, non-commercial) - $15
Motorcycle - $10
Per Person - $7

2018
Annual Great Sand Dunes Pass - $40
Per Vehicle (private, non-commercial) - $20
Motorcycle - $15
Per Person - $10

“We are committed to keeping the park affordable but we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience,” said Acting Park Superintendent Phil Wilson. “We use the money from park entrance fees to maintain, repair and improve our facilities, enhance essential visitor services such as events and programs, restore critical habitat for the wildlife that visitors come to see and enjoy, and to support our law enforcement rangers in their public safety duties.”

One project that can benefit from this fee increase would be the Piñon Flats Campground and Mosca Creek Picnic Area enhancements which would include new flooring, heating systems and water distribution lines for restroom facilities.
It is important to note that a visitor to the park will only be charged one of these entrance fees—not a combination of them. Passes are valid for seven days from the date of issue, allowing visitors to enter and exit the park multiple times during that 7-day period by showing their paid receipt.

Of the 417 units in the National Park System, 118 parks currently collect fees. The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation under which Great Sand Dunes and the other 118 park units currently collects entrance and campground fees. Currently, national parks like Great Sand Dunes retain 80 percent of the entrance fees collected for use on projects that directly benefit visitors. The remaining 20 percent is distributed to other park units throughout the National Park System.

Since the beginning of FLREA and its predecessor program, Fee Demo, Great Sand Dunes has been able to devote more than $7 million to enhance visitor services at the park, funding facility repair and maintenance, visitor amenities, and visitor programs and services.

The public is encouraged to comment about Great Sand Dunes’ proposed new entrance fees. That feedback helps park managers determine the appropriateness of entrance fees.

We invite the public to submit comments electronically via the National Park Service's Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsa_fees. Click on: Proposal to Increase Fees at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Comments will also be accepted in writing (hand-delivery, by mail, or fax). To submit written comments, you may mail or hand-deliver your comments to Chief of Administration & Fees, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Attn: Proposal to Increase Fees, 11500 State Hwy 150, Mosca, CO 81146. In addition, faxed comments will be accepted at (719) 378-6310.

Comments submitted by e-mail and anonymous comments will not be accepted. Bulk comments in any format submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted. All public comments must be received by September 17, 2017.

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment - including your personal identifying information - may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask the National Park Service in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

For more information, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsa or call Public Information Officer, Katherine Faz at 719-378-6341.

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

The Lightning-caused Castle Creek Fire at Great Sand Dunes is Out

The lightning-caused Castle Creek fire in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area of Great Sand Dunes National Preserve was called out on August 8. The determination was based on an absence of discernable fire activity, consistent monsoonal rains and the lack of a detectable heat source during a recent infrared overflight by the Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s Multi-mission Aircraft.

The fire had been burning at 11,000 feet in steep and rough terrain and posed minimal impacts to visitors. Since July 12 when the fire started, fire personnel tracked its behavior and implemented management strategies considering access to the remote terrain, safety of firefighters, available resources, as well as observed and expected fire behavior.

The National Park Service wishes to thank the San Luis Valley Interagency Fire Management Unit and the Pike and San Isabel National Forests for their assistance in the management of the Castle Creek Fire.

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

-NPS-
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For Immediate Release – August 2, 2017
Katherine Faz: 719-378-6341

Great Sand Dunes Celebrates Junior Ranger Day


Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is celebrating Junior Ranger Day this Saturday, August 5, 2017. Activities will take place from 9:00am to 1:00pm at the South Ramada Picnic Area. Participants will have the opportunity to earn patches, pedometers and T-shirts after completing a variety of activities. Families and children of all ages are welcome and there no fees or reservations are required to participate.

Orientation, prize, and activity tables will be set up at the South Ramada Picnic Area, adjacent to the Dunes Parking Area. Participants should park at the Dunes Parking Area and follow signs to the South Ramada Picnic Area. Park Rangers and volunteers will be available to provide general information and a map of the activities. This year, Great Sand Dunes has organized the following activities for kids to participate in:

  • Learn about mountain lions, pronghorns, and a variety of insects at the “Animal Obstacle Course.”
  • Stop by the “Touch Table” station to learn more about artifacts, rocks, and other exciting items that have been found in the park.
  • Try on the uniform that best suits you and explore careers with the National Park Service at the “Ranger Station.”
  • In an effort to promote physical activity in National Parks, the Friends of the Dunes will provide pedometers for Junior Rangers to participate in “Steps for Stamps” =- walk or hike 2,000 steps (1 mile) with a pedometer and earn a sticker.
  • Look for plants, animals, and unique features in the dunes as part of the “Scavenger Hunt.”


Junior Rangers will collect a sticker after completing each activity and pick up prizes at the South Ramada picnic area.

This event is made possible with generous support from the Friends of the Dunes and the staff and volunteers at Great Sand Dunes. The Friends of the Dunes is a non-profit organization committed to supporting research and education at Great Sand Dunes.

For more information on Junior Ranger Day and other programs and special events at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, please visit www.nps.gov/grsa or call the visitor center at 719-378-6395.

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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: August 24, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Visitor Center
11999 State Highway 150

Mosca, CO 81146

Phone:

(719) 378-6395

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