Letter to the Editor: Live Animals, Reenactors Heart of Bent's Fort by Brett Mills

Description: The Following Letter was Written by Brett Mills... (The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are not necessarily those of SECO News or Consulting With A Hart LLC)

Published: 02/13/2024
Byline: SECO News
Letter to National Park Service Intermountain Region Director by Brett Mills
"This email is in regards to the recent changes that have been, and are currently being proposed to be made at Bents' Fort National Historic National Historic Site in southeastern Colorado by the new superintendent Eric Leonard and maintenance chief Bill Allen. As a native resident of the nearby area, and frequent visitor to the fort, I have extreme concerns about the drastic changes the new superintendent has made since he has taken over management of the site. From my understanding, the upper level of the fort has now been closed to the public, the live animals have been (or are scheduled to be) removed, and all volunteers who work as live historical reenactors will no longer be working at the fort in that capacity. It seems, quite clearly that Mr. Leonard intends to turn our beloved fort into another lifeless, ghost town of a museum, and I struggle to understand the reasoning for this. If these changes are a result of low attendance at the fort, how on earth does he think making the fort less engaging and attractive will attract more visitors?  What marketing efforts have been made to attract more visitors in the first place? I feel the local tourism office could assist by ramping up efforts to attract more visitors had they been contacted sooner."
"Regarding the closure of the upper level of the structure, we've been informed an assessment has been done and it has been deemed unsafe. Where can the public find these reports? Can these issues not be remedied and the upper level then re-opened? Closure of the upper level is closure of 50% of the fort. If this is a permanent change, how will that add to the attraction? The fort sits off the beaten path where visitors must sidetrack out of their way to visit. Taking away half of their experience will do nothing but result in poor reviews and thus, fewer new visitors in the long run."
"My other concern is how these changes have been implemented with zero communication or outreach to the surrounding communities. It all seems very shady, and has raised alarm with everyone in our tight-knit area. While southeastern Colorado is a very historical area, we unfortunately don't have many places where people can visit and have such a wonderfully educational and engaging experience like they can at Bent's Old Fort. I personally take any out-of-town guests to tour the fort, and know many other locals do as well. It's a gem in our peaceful little area, not simply because of its historical value but because of the immersive and engaging experience it provides those who visit. The live animals and historically dressed reenactors are the heart of this experience! Take them away and the fort will surely dry up and become another historical carcass on the plains."
"Word has spread and our local communities are now fully aware and rallying to assist in any way that's needed to save our beloved fort from these drastic and detrimental changes that in my opinion, and in very short order would result in the demise of the fort entirely as there will be little to no reason for people to visit at all."
"Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We all hope you reconsider these changes and work with the community to revive the fort to its former glory. We've done it before, and will gladly do it again."
Brett Mills
Concerned Citizen

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