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National Park Service seeking public comment on designation of Dearfield

Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers from Colorado wrote to National Park Service leadership urging the inclusion of the Dearfield Settlement in the National Park System.

Dearfield is a historic settlement for Black farmers established in Weld County in 1910. It grew to as many as 300 residents, who farmed across 15,000 acres, and it featured multiple churches, restaurants, businesses and a hotel at its peak in the early 20th century.

A letter on Tuesday — signed by Democratic U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, Democratic U.S. Reps. Joe Neguse of Lafayette and Jason Crow of Centennial, and Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Buck — urges NPS Director Charles Sams to “seek robust public input” as the agency conducts a study to determine the sustainability of the site for inclusion in the National Park System.

The Park Service is taking public comment through February 23.

“Dearfield was a thriving agricultural community until the hardships brought on by the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression led many residents to leave,” the letter says. “Today, a gas station, diner, and Dearfield founder Oliver Toussaint Jackson’s home — which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 — remain standing. But even with these few remaining tangible reminders of their legacy, the settlers of Dearfield authored an important chapter of Colorado’s history, and by preserving this site for future generations we can continue to honor them.”

The NPS will evaluate the Dearfield site for national significance, sustainability, feasibility and need for NPS management. It must have positive findings in all four categories to be considered.

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