ALAMOSA — The Alamosa Board of County Commissioners heard an update from the leadership at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on Wednesday. Pam Rice, the new superintendent at the park, presented the updates along with Fred Bunch, chief of resource management.
Commissioner Darius Allen asked Rice to first tell about herself since she has only been on the job for two months. Originally from Texas, Rice spent much of her career with the National Park Service in Alaska as chief of interpretation at Gates of the Arctic in Fairbanks. She also did a brief time of service in Washington DC as part of Senator Lisa Murkowski’s staff. After Washington, she spent some time at the Glen Canyon complex.
She applied when the position at the Sand Dunes came open and was thrilled when she was offered the job, she said. She added she is grateful to her husband for his flexibility throughout the process.
The first item of note for the park is that the Ungulate Management Plan is nearing completion. The next step for the plan will be briefing to the Department of the Interior. If all is approved, the release is anticipated to be in November. Part of the proposed plan is the continuation of a bison herd on the Medano Ranch. This would become part of the Department of Interior’s program following the removal of the herd that is owned by The Nature Conservancy.
Another highlight of the update was the progress of the International Dark Skies designation. The nomination is near completion. The park is working with the International Dark Skies Association to improve the application and improve local partnerships.
The park also recently celebrated reaching the one million dollar mark in sales at the Visitors’ Center Gift Store. The amount of visitors at the park has remained fairly steady with 349,440 as of August. Colorado, Texas and New Mexico remain the top three states where visitors come from.
The Great Sand Dunes team is grateful for the support of Alamosa and both parties look forward to continuing to work together.