On May 31, Roxborough State Park staff and volunteers will celebrate the acquisition of the area called Southdowns near the park entrance.
The acquisition was a process that developed numbers of devotees along the way — accumulating the 3,339 acres that are now included in the spectacularly beautiful Roxborough State Park in Douglas County ...
Striking red rock formations, the Fountain Formation, grassland expanses and Willow Creek combine to make a place of absolute beauty, which became Roxborough State Park. (The late Littleton Independent editor, Houstoun Waring, was an early park supporter, as was well-known Littleton artist rita derjue, who died in the past year.)
Twenty five years ago, a critical piece was the addition of “Southdowns,” a 625-acre parcel that had been platted for development, until a Friends of Roxborough organization formed to preserve the area where one now enters.
“Twenty-five years ago, on May 31, 1996, conservationists, state and county government leaders and a developer came together to celebrate the protection of the platted 625-acre development known as `Southdowns’ and its addition to Roxborough State Park. The dedication ceremony was the culmination of nearly three years of grassroots awareness-building, intense real estate negotiations and multifaceted fundraising,” wrote Susan Trumble, who was senior ranger/park manager from 1980 to 2003.
“Southdowns, part of the original Woodmoor development at Roxborough, was platted in the 1970s, with over 1,100 housing units. At the time of the Woodmoor bankruptcy in 1975, most of the lots had been sold to individual owners. In the early 1990s, US Home consolidated a majority of these lots with plans to construct over 700 homes.
“Final approvals for construction were in process when a group of concerned citizens came together in November, 1993 to found the Friends of Roxborough State Park. They saw this intense development on the front doorstep of the park as a death threat to the park’s existence as a nationally recognized Natural Landmark and its designation as a Colorado Natural Area. The Friends of Roxborough State Park vowed that day to bring public awareness to the park’s plight, raise funds and seek an alternative to the housing development.”
Readers who tend towards grassroots involvements can imagine the scene!
The Friends wrote letters to Gov. Roy Romer, state legislators and Douglas County commissioners, distributed `Save Roxborough State Park’ bumper stickers and collected almost 15,000 petition signatures. Romer visited and his concern “caused momentum to change,” Trumble said. A change in the county’s comprehensive plan met resistance from citizens in an alternative location the developer found.
Tom Macy of the Conservation Fund was brought in to negotiate with US Home to find a solution. (Macy likened the Southdowns dilemma of attempting to `reverse development’ to `trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.’ ) US Home agreed to sell their interest in Southdowns and the Conservation Fund agreed to purchase and hold the property until Colorado State Parks could come up with the cash. ($2.35 million.)
The May 31, 1996 dedication ceremony was blessed with a cedar ceremony by Northern Cheyenne Richard Tall Bull. The ceremony concluded with participants joining hands in a Native American Friendship Dance led by Sicangu Lakota Jessica Bordeaux Vigil and Miss Junior Indian Colorado, Ogallala Lakota, Randi Rae Blakesly,” Trumble concluded.
Trumble cited Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
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