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Federal government launches study to evaluate Dearfield's potential in National Park Service system

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jan 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-09 21:20:31-05

WELD COUNTY, Colo. — The federal government has launched a special resource study (SRS) of the Dearfield settlement to evaluate its potential for inclusion in the National Park Service (NPS) system.

In the early part of the 20th century, Dearfield — located 25 miles east of Greeley in Weld County — blossomed into Colorado’s most successful Black agricultural town, attracting African Americans from all over who were interested in farming.


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Dearfield was founded in 1910 by Oliver Toussaint (O.T.) Jackson, an African American who worked for several governors as a messenger.

“He wanted to start a Black farming community,” said Dr. George Junne, an Africana Studies professor at the University of Northern Colorado. “He started off in another community and it didn't work out. So the governor at that time helped him proceed to get the land that is now Dearfield.”

It reached its peak in the late 1910s and early 1920s, but the Dust Bowl blew away the soil and their dreams in the 1930s.

“O.T. Jackson and some families tried to stay on and some of them into the 1940s. But there's no water out there, so therefore it failed,” said Junne.

A provision in the omnibus bill signed by President Joe Biden directed the U.S. Department of the Interior to study the town’s history and "determine the suitability and feasibility of designating the study area as a unit of the National Park System."

According to the National Park Service, a study team will evaluate the site based on four criteria:

  • National significance
  • Suitability
  • Feasibility
  • Need for NPS management

The NPS said all four criteria must have "positive findings" in order for the site to be eligible for potential inclusion.
The study team will also consider public input. The NPS will host two in-person public input sessions:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 16 at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 17 at the Greeley History Museum in Greeley from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A third session will be held virtually on Friday, Jan. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon. You can participate by following this link and looking for the meeting under the "Meeting Notices" tab. The NPS will post a video recording of the virtual meeting on the project webpage.


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Those who would like to share their input can also submit it virtually (which is preferred) or by mail. Comments will be accepted through Feb. 23, according to NPS.

To submit your comments virtually, visit the study website and click the "Open for Comment" tab to access the portal.

To submit your comments by mail, send them to the following address:

National Park Service
Denver Service Senter
Attn: Dearfield SRS / Charles Lawson
12795 West Alameda Pkwy
Denver, CO, 80228

For more information on the study and upcoming public meetings, click here.

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