December 21, 2020

Congressman Neguse’s Bipartisan Bills to Expand Rocky Mountain National Park Pass the Senate

Washington D.C.—This weekend, two bills introduced by Congressman Joe Neguse to expand Rocky Mountain National Park passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. The Rocky Mountain National Park Boundary Modification Act would allow former NASA astronaut and Longmont, Colorado native Vance D. Brand to donate 40 acres to Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Rocky Mountain Ownership Correction Act would correct a longstanding error regarding a local family’s cabin that was mistakenly transferred to the park. Both bills enjoy bipartisan, bicameral support, with Congressman Lamborn co-sponsoring both House bills, and Senators Gardner and Bennet championing the bills in the Senate. 

“These bills will expand and protect one of our most treasured and historic national parks, one that I am proud is located within Colorado’s Second Congressional District. People from all over the world are drawn to Rocky Mountain National Park to experience nature and partake in outstanding recreational activities. It is a place that holds deep meaning for many Americans, and especially Coloradans,” said Congressman Neguse. “I was thrilled to have both bills pass out of the House earlier this month and am glad to see the Senate following suit to take swift action. These bills now head to the President’s desk and I implore him to sign them so we can deliver for our communities in Colorado and honor Vance Brand’s request.”

In July, the House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a legislative hearing on H.R. 5458 and H.R. 5459, during which Congressman Neguse and former astronaut Vance. D. Brand testified in support of the bills. In September, the Committee voted to send both bills to the full House for consideration. 

View the Congressman’s remarks during the House vote earlier this month here.

Background 

Former U.S. astronaut Vance D. Brand is voluntarily donating a 40-acre tract to Rocky Mountain National Park. The property is located adjacent to the eastern boundary of the park and would add additional protection for the park’s high-elevation ecosystem. This parcel of land would also provide recreational access and connectivity through a scenic, natural buffer between private lands and three popular trails; Estes Cone, Storm Pass, and Eugenia Mine Trails. These three trails connect to and are part of a large trail network offering hundreds of miles of trails to the park’s 4.5 million annual visitors. 

The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the Forsyth family to resolve a 1972-73 issue where a 0.18-acre plot containing their family cabin was erroneously transferred to the Rocky Mountain National Park when the NPS purchased a larger surrounding parcel. An error in the bank documents’ legal description of the parcel mislocated the family’s holding as a 0.18-acre plot of vacant land inside the parcel, not the original cabin site. The Forsyth family, seeking to regain legal ownership of its cabin and the 0.18-acre plot on which it sits, proposed an exchange of properties.