Bennet, Gardner, Neguse Introduce Bills to Expand Rocky Mountain National Park

Legislation Would Allow Astronaut Vance D. Brand to Donate 40 Acres to the RMNP

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R), along with U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (CO-2), introduced two pieces of legislation today to expand the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). The bills allow former NASA astronaut Vance D. Brand to donate 40 acres to Rocky Mountain National Park, and would also resolve a longstanding issue regarding a local family’s cabin that was erroneously transferred to the park. Both land transfers require an Act of Congress to complete.

“For locals and the visitors who travel to Rocky Mountain National Park from around the world alike, astronaut Vance Brand’s generous donation to the park is exciting news,” said Bennet. “Our bills will formally add this parcel of land in the Longs Peak region to RMNP, and clean up boundary discrepancies elsewhere, to improve management in the area. We thank Mr. Brand for this valuable contribution to the park.” 

“Astronaut Vance D. Brand is not only an American hero, but also a Colorado hero. Born and raised in Longmont, Colorado, he spent many years at Rocky Mountain National Park, and now he graciously wants to donate 40 acres of land to expand the park where he spent many years of his life,” said Gardner. “However, the Park Service needs approval from Congress to change the park’s boundary. I’m incredibly grateful for his commitment to share more of the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park area with the public, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Bennet and Congressman Neguse to respect this hero’s wishes and make this donation official.”  

“Public lands are who we are as Coloradans, they drive our outdoor recreation economy and inspire our commitment to sustainability,” said Neguse. “I am proud to lead this effort alongside Senator Gardner and Senator Bennet to honor the desire of former Astronaut Vance D. Brand to convey 40 acres of land into the treasured Rocky Mountain National Park landscape. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the country and this legislation will enhance the park for future generations to enjoy.” 

“My view is that this donation is payback to the American people in appreciation for the wonderful times and many benefits that I receive from great experiences in RMNP. I request the U.S. government to adjust the eastern boundary of RMNP to include the 40 acres that our family donated which currently is in the hands of Rocky Mountain Conservancy,” said Retired NASA Astronaut Vance D. Brand. 

Former U.S. astronaut Vance D. Brand is voluntarily donating a 40-acre tract to Rocky Mountain National Park. The property is located adjacent to the eastern boundary of the park and would add additional protection for the park’s high-elevation ecosystem. This parcel of land would also provide recreational access and connectivity through a scenic, natural buffer between private lands and three popular trails; Estes Cone, Storm Pass, and Eugenia Mine Trails. These three trails connect to and are part of a large trail network offering hundreds of miles of trails to the park’s 4.5 million annual visitors.  

The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the Forsyth family to resolve a 1972-73 issue where a 0.18-acre plot containing their family cabin was erroneously transferred to the Rocky Mountain National Park when the NPS purchased a larger surrounding parcel. An error in the bank documents’ legal description of the parcel mislocated the family’s holding as a 0.18-acre plot of vacant land inside the parcel, not the original cabin site. The Forsyth family, seeking to regain legal ownership of its cabin and the 0.18-acre plot on which it sits, proposed an exchange of properties.