Sangre de cristo greenbelt
3,969 acres, Costilla county
“They were like a second home growing up,” says Steven Romero, Costilla County Commissioner. “I’ve been playing in the greenbelt area since I was 8 years old.”
The Sangre de Cristo Greenbelt, located northeast of the Town of San Luis, is a new addition to the public recreation opportunities in the San Luis Valley. Since approximately 99% of the land in Costilla County is privately owned, common places to recreate and gather are limited. There are no federally owned lands for public recreation.
The property includes beaver ponds, Rito Seco Creek, and open meadows, and serves as a popular fishing spot. The community has long enjoyed picnicking, collecting firewood and piñon nuts, and exploring this land. A youth nature and hunting education camp sponsored by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Fort Garland Community Center has taken place on this property for the past 20 years.
This project is the culmination of over eight years of community meetings, fundraising, and successful partnerships between many groups who wish to permanently preserve land for people to fish, hike, camp, and play. In 2012, Costilla County partnered with Colorado Open Lands and the National Parks Service to create a Trails, Recreation & Open Space plan for the County. The Batenburg Meadows area was identified as a key area to protect for outdoor recreation.
Colorado Open Lands was able to raise over half a million dollars from Great Outdoors Colorado – GOCO, the U.S. Forest Service, and the LOR Foundation to purchase seventeen additional parcels to add to the greenbelt, for a total of over 4,000 contiguous acres for outdoor recreation. The land will be managed as public open space by the county government and is protected by a conservation easement to keep it open in perpetuity.
Costilla County Commissioner Lawrence Pacheco remarked, “What we’ve added to public access in Costilla County within the seven years that I’ve been here I think is probably my greatest accomplishment, something that makes me the proudest, so I wanted to take that opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved with it. It hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been completely impossible either.”