Corridor Management Plan
This Corridor Management Plan describes the condition, evaluates the resources and guides the future of the Santa Fe Trail Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway. It was created with the participation of persons representing broad interests along the Byway. It incorporates information on the many preservation, development and promotional activities which these agencies and individuals have already implemented and describes future plans for road improvements, management of intrinsic qualities, interpretive development, improvements in tourism facilities and services, sign installation, and marketing.
This document consists of six main sections as specified by the guidelines
for corridor management plans published by the Federal Highway Administration,
Office of Environment and Planning. These sections are:
1. Location and Maps covering the Trail location relative to the Byway, corridor boundaries, land use and land ownership;
2. Physical Description covering a general review of the road, traffic volumes, safety, accidents, maintenance and improvements;
3. Intrinsic Qualities which includes an assessment of the scenic, cultural, historic, archeological, recreational, and natural resources in the Byway corridor, management strategies for their preservation and enhancement and an interpretive plan;
4. Visitor Needs and Expectations including existing services and amenities, visitation estimates and trends, a tourism services/facilities plan, a commerce plan, a sign plan and information on outdoor advertising;
5. Marketing and Promotion which covers existing marketing programs, a promotion plan, and a multi-lingual information plan; and,
6. People's Involvement and Responsibilities including descriptions of involved organizations, management, on-going public participation and an action plan with schedule. Protection tools along the Byway are reviewed in each element of the CMP. Sections of the plan are segregated into existing, in-progress and proposed projects to illustrate current protection efforts already implemented along the Byway.
The Corridor Management Plan was prepared by a consulting team with financial assistance provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation through Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development, Inc. and the Mountains and Mesas Enterprise Zone. An initial interpretive plan was completed for the Byway in May 1997; in 2006 it was updated and it is summarized within the main body of this document and included in its entirety as an appendix.
The Corridor Management Plan was updated by Colorado Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch Organization with the participation of managing authorities of the Santa Fe Trail corridor, it's sites of interest, heritage developers of the region, tourist promotional organizations and Byway non-profit and for profit buisnesses, and stakeholders of the Byway corridor..
The Corridor Management Plan (CMP) was created through a participatory process with decisions formed through consensus building techniques. Participants representing federal agencies, regional development organizations, local governments, the Bent's Fort Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association and the general public contributed to the plan's development. In 2006 a Scenic Byway assessment was completed after a year of monthly meetings with public officials and land owners thoughout the Byway corridor and the neighboring sites of interest near the Santa Fe Trail. Copies of the CMP are made available through the Byway website and stakeholder planning and developments are added to the plan as they develop. This revision of the CMP was completed in 2008.
During the development of the Interpretive Plan, ten public meetings were held in Trinidad, Las Animas, Lamar and at Bent's Old Fort between July, 1996 and the following May. When work commenced on the remaining portions of the CMP, three additional meetings were held to assess resources, identify opportunities, and develop long-term strategies for enhancement and preservation of the Byway. The revised interpretive plan came from a concensus of the stakeholders at meetings held throughout the corridor during monthly meetings held with Southeast Colorado Tourism Board from 2006-2007.
A mailing to over 140 private and public agencies and land owners interested in the Santa Fe Trail was done ten days prior to the first of the three meetings. The first meeting included the creation of a mission statement for the plan, review of the Byway's physical inventory, and establishment of goals and objectives for the CMP. Strategies for management of intrinsic qualities, meeting visitor needs and expectations, and marketing were developed and analyzed at the second meeting. At the third meeting, strategies were further refined and prioritized to meet agreed upon goals. At each meeting the purpose for the development of a CMP was discussed. A handout given to attendees defining a CMP and explaining its benefits as included in the appendices. Since the original CMP was created a new grassroots organization developed with 501 C3 designation for the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway-Mountain Branch. A Board of Dirrectors was elected, Bylaws were developed, and Articles of Incorporation were filled with Secretary of State in Colorado.
Input was also obtained through two surveys conducted during the CMP's development. A questionnaire was mailed with meeting notices asking that persons unable to attend to provide written comments on road conditions, signs, promotional materials, and resource interpretative and management. To learn more about visitor experiences, a survey of persons working in visitor service positions (motel and convenience store clerks, welcome center volunteers, and chamber of commerce representatives) was conducted. Both surveys are included as an appendix to this report. An additional survey was conducted in 2007 to determine the effect Scenic Byway designation has on tourism to the region.
Additional revisions were made from planning meetings conducted by various Byway Organization partners and stakeholders including State of Colorado Recreational Parks, Southeast Colorado Regional Heritage Task Force, Trinidad Tourism Board, Colorado Department of Transportation, National Parks Service, US Forest Service, Division of Wildlie and have taken into consideraltion their finalized plans for the region as they have been developed to date.
The mission for the development of this Corridor Management Plan is to
produce a document which is:
comprehensive, addressing all aspects of the Byway including roadway conditions, intrinsic qualities, visitor experiences, and marketing;
consistent with existing plans, including the National Park Service's Comprehensive Management and Land Use Plan;
guiding in terms of the direction for the future it will provide through management guidelines;
creative and visionary;
coordinated among all participants in the four counties in Colorado through which the Mountain Route passes and the four neighboring counties which have Trail-related resources and may be impacted by this plan's implementation;
integrated with programs and policies in other Trail states, particularly New Mexico and Kansas;
dynamic and responsive to changes over time while sensitive to the preservation of intrinsic qualities;
specific rather than general, containing well-defined strategies;
long-term with definitive plans for the initial years and general direction for thereafter; and,
feasible and realistic.
The following goals and objectives were developed through the public participation and consensus building process. They are used to assess resources in the Byway corridor and to guide the development of plans for their preservation and enhancement.
Preserve historic sites and resources for future generations.
to achieve a balance between preservation and development;
to increase public knowledge about the locations of archeological and historic resources along the route; and,
to encourage protection of sites on private land through voluntary mechanisms, incentives and certification programs.
Increase recognition and appreciation of the multi-cultural heritage in communities within the corridor.
to increase information availability about travel in both directions
along the Trail's historic routes and the ties it created among vastly different
cultures and races;
to preserve the pioneer spirit among the region's population;
to enhance awareness of the Trail's history among persons moving into the region;
to promote Trail-related activities among all ages and families; and,
to use connections provided by the Trail to improve inter-community relations.
Upgrade and improve maintenance of developed sites and facilities.
to increase ongoing repair efforts;
to use low maintenance materials and designs; and
to secure adequate budgets for maintenance and development.
Develop additional sites which are not now accessible or do not have visitor services.
to improve the quality of visits; and
to increase the number of sites visited.
Increase visitation and tourism's contribution to the economy.
to consistently use a unified Trail-related theme and identity;
to increase visitation approximately 5% per year;
to increase the length of visitor stays and expenditures;
to increase visitation to under-utilized sites and facilities;
to provide services and facilities to attract groups; and,
to disperse Trail-related activities throughout the corridor.
From 1821 when William Becknell and five companions from Missouri first transported goods to New Mexico for sale by wagon, until 1880 when the railroad made wagon caravans obsolete, the Santa Fe Trail was foremost a trade route. Goods traveled in both directions on the Trail creating strong commercial ties between Missouri and points east and the Mexican frontier province of New Mexico. By 1846, the value of goods taken over the Trail surpassed $1 million.
The Trail also served as a route for settlers immigrating as far west as California. The Trail carried many men and some families searching for their fortunes in gold during the 1848 rush to California and following the 1858 gold discoveries in Colorado. The military had a continual presence on the Trail, first accompanying trade caravans as protection against Indian attacks then later in both the 1846 war between the United States and Mexico and the Civil War.
The Mountain Route afforded greater safety and access to water; however, this route was longer than the Cimarron Route. As the wagons pulled by oxen or mules crossed the prairies and high deserts, they traveled four abreast in large caravans (often over 100 wagons) for security. The route would meander depending upon water levels in rivers and creeks, the presence of Indians and even the location of bison herds. The Trail narrowed in difficult sections including river crossings, canyons and mountain passes. At night, the wagons were positioned in large circles. Since the terrain generally allowed for variations in route depending upon conditions, the Trail usually resembled a wide swath rather than a well-defined, narrow strip. As such, distinct ruts as viewed from a pedestrian's perspective are only apparent in a few sections of the Mountain Route in Colorado.
(Please note: A more thorough description of the Trail's history is contained in the 1991 Scenic and Historic Byways nomination submitted to the Colorado Byways Commission, which is included as an appendix to this plan.)
In 1987, the Santa Fe Trail was designated a National Historic Trail by the National Park Service (NPS). In the early 1990's, under the authorization of the Trail Systems Act, the Byway was named an Auto Tour Route under the administration of the NPS. NPS provided funds to each state for Auto Tour Route signs which were installed in Colorado by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
In October, 1991, an application was submitted to the Colorado Department of Transportation's Byways Committee to designate State Highway 50 from the Kansas border to La junta, State Highway 350 from La Junta to Trinidad and Interstate 25 between Trinidad and Raton Pass as a Scenic and Historic Byway. The application was co-sponsored by Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development, Inc. and Mountains and Mesas Enterprise Zone. Numerous agencies provided letters of support. The application was approved following a presentation to the Colorado Byways Commission.
Since achieving Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway designation, a wide variety of efforts aimed at enhancing the Byway and its contribution to the region have been made including:
installation of interpretive media at key locations;
development of interpretive sites and picnic areas;
installation of Scenic and Historic Byway signs along the entire length of the roadway;
design, production and distribution of interpretive and promotional brochures;
certification of interpretive and marketing programs;
a business plan created for sustainability of the Byway program;
participation in multi-state promotional programs including several Santa Fe Trail Symposiums held on the byway with the five trail states; and,
improvements in the roadway in the downtown areas of several communities.
In 1997 a nonmination was submitted for designation as a National Scenic Byway by the Scenic Byway Steering Committee. The original CMP accompanied the application along with apendices and the Colorado portion of the Santa Fe Trail was designated as a National Scenic and Historic Byway in 1998.
Since achieving National Scenic and Historic Byway designation, a wide variety of new efforts aimed at enhancing the Byway and its contribution to the region have been made including:
a non profit Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch organization was formed to advance tourism on Colorodo's Santa Fe Trail and assist in the management of Byway resources and development of the Byway's contribution to tourism in the region;
development, maintanence, and improvement of interpretive sites, scenic pull offs, guided and self guided tours, nature and history trails for horseback riding, biking, and hiking;
serveral multistate Santa Fe Trail projects were undertaken including semiannual National Santa Fe Trail Symposiums of 1997 and 2007 in Trinidad on Colorado's Santa Fe Trail;
serval co-operative efforts between multi local and state authorities and stakeholders, Colorado Department of Transportation Scenic Byway Program, National Scenic Byways- America's Byways, National Parks Service, NPS Long Distance Trails Division, US Division of Wildlife, US Forest Service, and Coloroado Tourism Office have been undertaken including marketing, visitor surveys, the Colorado Report, Bike with Pike- a multi byway biking event in 2006 on the Santa Fe Trail, state wide trail development, byway promotional materials, byway training and promotional activities;
National Scenic Byway co-operative promotions have been developed which include, brochures, calendars, promotional films and CD's, web sites and various brand building and marketing projects both Nationally and Internationally;
Interstate 25 reconconstuction in the Trinidad region on the western portion of the Byway Corridor;
US Higway 50 Corridor planning and rerouting for Southeast Colorado on the eastern portion of the Byway Corridor;
cooperation between State DOT, cities and counties resulted in new city parks and recreational areas for visitors and many Byway cities with county asisstance are undergoing downtown revitalization projects and completing comprehensive planning for the region including, Trinidad, Prowers County, Lamar, La Junta, Las Animas;
additional co-operative non-profit organizations including developed in the region to assist managing authorities and stakeholders with planning for heritage development, tourism development, resource protection, and outdoor recreation planning for Southeast Colorado and a heritage pilot program sponsored by the Colorado Tourism Office;
sections of Colorado Santa Fe Trail and private properties which the Trail passes through have been designated as Colorado's Preservation Inc. Most Endangered Places 2007 and Pinon Canyon was added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation Issues 2007 List of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places which resulted in an historic survey conducted in 2008 of the region;
several preservation groups have formed to assist in the preservation of our National tresures including Pinon Canyon Opposition Coalition, and the Purgatoire, Apishapa & Comanche Grassland Trust;
Preserve America Communities were designated in 2007 on and adjacent to the Colorado's Santa Fe Trail Scenic Byway include the Colorado counties of Pueblo, Baca, Bent, Prowers, Crowley, Kiowa and Otero;
the creation of an audio cd for touring the bywway;
the creation of two Byway owned internet web sites which include in depth information on historic sites and visitor services available on the byway located at www.santafetrailco.com and www.santafetrailscenicandhistoricbyway.org;
tour promotions have been developed and are actively promoted on the Byway at http://www.santafetrailscenicandhistoricbyway.org/tours.html;
the interpretive plan has been implemented with the installation of signs for enhancement at several historic sites;
The Trail: The Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail which has
been designated a National Historic Trail.
Byway: The road and its corridor which has been designated a Scenic and Historic Byway by the Colorado Byways Commission
High Potential Route Segments and Historic Sites: The NPS designation for sites which have the potential to provide opportunities to interpret the trail's historical significance and to provide high-quality recreation along a portion of the route having greater than average scenic values and also offering visitors the chance to vicariously share the experience of trail users. Criteria include historical significance, the presence of visible historic remains, scenic quality, and relative freedom from intrusion.
Intrinsic Quality: Those features that are a unique part of the route. These features must be unusual, exceptional or distinctive, and meaningful to both the communities along the Byway and the Byway visitor. Intrinsic qualities are categorized as Scenic, Cultural, Historic, Archaeological, Recreational and/or Natural.
National Significance: Those intrinsic qualities which best represent the nation and are one-of-a-kind features that do not exist elsewhere in the nation.
Regional Significance: Those intrinsic qualities which are irreplaceable, unique or representative of southeast Colorado.
CMP: Corridor Management Plan
CDOT: Colorado Department of Transportation
NPS: National Park Service
SECED: Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development, Inc.
SFT: The Santa Fe National Historic Trail
STFS: Santa Fe Trail States (Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico)
USFS: United States Forest Service
USDOW: Division of Wildlife