National Park Service seeks public input on Dearfield settlement in Weld County

The National Park Service will hold three information sessions next week for public comment on its study of the former Dearfield town site, which at one time was the largest Black homesteading settlement in Colorado.

The NPS is evaluating Dearfield for possible inclusion in the national park system.

The meetings are scheduled for Tuesday-Wednesday, Jan. 16-17 in Denver and Greeley, and a virtual meeting Friday, Jan. 19. The public is invited to attend or participate in any of the meetings to ask questions and to learn about the Dearfield special resource study and its process.

The Dearfield Lodge/Jackson house still stands in the black community of Dearfield in eastern Weld County.(Jim Rydbom/Staff Photographer)
The Dearfield Lodge/Jackson house still stands in the black community of Dearfield in eastern Weld County.(Jim Rydbom/Staff Photographer)

The meeting schedule: 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16 at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library (Cousins Gallery, third floor), 2401 Welton St. in Denver; and 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17 at the Greeley History Museum, 714 8th St. in Greeley.

The virtual meeting is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Jan. 19. A link for the meeting is available on the project webpage on the NPS website, parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=118346

Click on the meeting notices tab on the left side of the page. A video recording will remain available of the virtual meeting presentation for anyone who is unable to attend the in-person meetings or the virtual meeting. The recording will be found via the meeting link on the project webpage,  https://parkplanning.nps.gov/Dearfield_SRS.

Dearfield, located about 25 miles east of Greeley on U.S. 34, has been the subject of local study and interest for more than three decades — initially by University of Northern Colorado professors George Junne and Robert Brunswig and later expanding to include efforts from city of Greeley and Weld County officials, the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado State University.

The NPS will evaluate Dearfield through a special resource study, which will include public input while considering four congressional criteria, according to a National Park Service news release. The criteria are: national significance, suitability, feasibility and the need for National Park Service management. All four criteria must have positive findings for the study to identify a site or area as eligible for potential inclusion.

Members of the public may also submit ideas, thoughts and information to help inform the special resources study. The NPS said in its news release the public input allows the agency to better understand what is most important and unique about Dearfield, how much support exists for preservation and what the public sees for the site’s future.

Written input may be submitted through Feb. 23 via online submission: parkplanning.nps.gov/Dearfield_SRS and click on the “Open for Comment” tab to access the virtual comment portal.

Comments will also be accepted via mail to: National Park Service, Denver Service Center, at the attention of Dearfield SRS/Charles Lawson, 12795 West Alameda Parkway in Denver, 80228.

The Dearfield study was authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, signed into law by President Biden in Dec. 2022. The study findings and recommendations will be sent to Congress for consideration. Only Congress through legislated action, or the president through the Antiquities Act of 1906 have the authority to designate new national park units.

 

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