Colorado Elected Officials Request National Parks Service Reevaluate Recent Changes at Bent's Old Fort
Description: A letter written by House Rep Ty Winter and Senator Rod Pelton to Kate Hammond of the National Parks Service regarding the new management at Bent's Old Fort, as both of their offices received complaints about changes that have been made.
House Rep Ty Winter and Senator Rod Pelton Request NPS Reevaluate Recent Changes at Bent's Old Fort
Subject: Urgent Request for Reevaluation of Recent Changes at Bent's Old Fort
I write to express concerns shared by numerous constituents regarding recent changes implemented at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site.
The decisions to limit operating days, close second-story rooms, and relocate all animals, including livestock, chickens, and cats, have stirred unease among those who hold the Fort dear. Bent's Old Fort has been a beacon of historical accuracy and educational immersion, allowing living history volunteers to reside within its rooms during special events. This cherished tradition, however, was discontinued in September 2023, and recent alterations indicate a further departure from the Fort's unique essence.
The Fort's historical significance, stemming from its role in relations with indigenous peoples on the plains and contributions to exploration, trade, and settlement in the West from 1833-1849, is immeasurable. Its 1976 reconstruction aimed at faithfully replicating the original structure, contributing to its authenticity as a historical resource. The recent shift towards reducing the Fort to a static display or museum is disheartening, potentially diminishing its appeal and educational impact.
Bent's Old Fort has been a vital educational resource, enlightening countless visitors and educational groups about its pivotal position on the Frontier. The removal of living history elements and the encouragement for interpretive staff to abandon period dress in favor of the standard NPS uniform may compromise the immersive experience that has set Bent's Old Fort apart.
Preserving the unique historical interpretation that Bent's Old Fort offers is crucial for maintaining its educational value. The Fort's ability to engage the public is closely tied to its living history elements, and any deviation from this approach may diminish its impact.
I urge the management to reconsider these changes, taking into account the broader implications on the Fort's mission and the public's experience. Bent's Old Fort's authenticity and educational value are paramount, and adjustments to recent decisions would contribute to the preservation of its unique historical legacy.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I am hopeful that thoughtful reconsideration will ensure the continued success and significance of Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site.
Watch the Response from the Otero County Commissioners Here: