Department Of Interior

DOI News Header
Office of the Secretary
Contact: John Wright, 202-208-6416
For Immediate Release: July 20, 2004
Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363
Secretary Norton Touts Importance of Park Maintenance
and Resource Protection at Rocky Mountain National Park

ESTES PARK, Colo.--Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton toured projects at Rocky Mountain National Park today that were once part of the park's maintenance backlog list. Norton observed firsthand the progress the park is making and highlighted the critical importance of the park's natural resources protection efforts.

"We are addressing the long-standing neglect that we inherited when we took office by keeping up with the maintenance of buildings, facilities, roads and protecting habitat in our national parks," Norton said. "Preserving the natural beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park and our many other special places while enabling millions of people to enjoy them each year takes work-lots of it-by Interior employees, partner groups and volunteers."

Norton noted that in the past three years, the National Park Service nationwide has undertaken 4,000 repair and maintenance projects. As a result, visitors to the parks and special places are seeing improved trails, more accessible campgrounds, rehabilitated visitor centers, better roads, stabilized historic structures and reduced environmental threats through better sewer, water and drinking systems.

"President Bush's commitment to good stewardship of our parks is one of the reasons the Park Service's operation budget of $1.8 billion is 20 percent higher than when we took office," Norton said. "We have more money today per acre, per employee and per visitor in the National Park system than at any time in the history of the parks."

Norton toured a Park & Ride area which was completed last fall and got a status report on the major road reconstruction project along the Bear Lake Road corridor that will be completed later this year in October. No major work had been done on the road in 75 years. The $8.2 million project, begun in June of 2003, will correct structural deficiencies in the roadway, provide proper drainage, provide safe and improved driving for visitors, facilitate existing and future shuttle bus operations and improve inadequate parking and pullout design. During the road reconstruction the area has been accessible by shuttle bus only. Last year over 480,000 visitors rode the shuttle buses.

Secretary Norton was also briefed on the new Glacier Creek Stables facility which was recently relocated to enable park staff to restore the wetland that was impacted when the stable area was built in the 1950s. She noted that the Park Service has an opportunity to add key pieces that will more fully reflect the complexity of protecting wetland areas as well as other natural resource challenges.

"We made a commitment to address the backlog, and we are meeting that commitment," said Norton. "The thoughtful redesign and improvements we are making here will enhance the visitor experience and protect the natural resources that the park has to offer."

Norton viewed the Hidden Valley restoration and rehabilitation project. The Hidden Valley Ski Area began operation in 1954 and was closed in 1992 due to poor snow conditions and lack of response from private bidders to operate the ski area. The current project will be completed in the fall of 2004. The restoration project will result in new visitor use facilities, a safer winter snow play area, and expanded summer picnic facilities. All of the former Hidden Valley Ski Area buildings
and the large parking lot have been removed. The new year-round facilities will include a building for public restrooms, warming hut and ranger office, a parking area one-fourth the size of the old area, and picnic pavilion. Some building materials from the original Hidden Valley lodge were reused in construction of the new facilities. This year a section of Hidden Valley Creek, which has been hidden in a culvert for approximately 50 years, will be open to view, buildings will be completed, and the parking area paved. Work has begun to restore wetlands. The natural resource restoration elements of the project will enhance wildlife habitat, particularly for the threatened greenback cutthroat trout, improve water quality, and reduce sedimentation. Because of the construction work, the area is currently closed to the public.

The Hidden Valley restoration project cost more than $2.3 million. Since 2001, more than 71 maintenance projects at Rocky Mountain National Park have started or have been completed for a cost of more than $33 million. These funds come from a variety of sources, including $13.9 million of fee demonstration funds.

Secretary Norton also discussed hazard fuel reduction projects taking place within and along the park boundaries.

Note to Editors: A report on all national parks units in the state of Colorado is available at:


Selected News Releases