WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet asked U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso to hold a committee hearing on the Dearfield Study Act. The Dearfield Study Act would direct the Department of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the Dearfield Homestead in Weld County to determine its suitability as a unit of the National Park System.
“We respectfully request that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources schedule a legislative hearing to consider S.5031, [the Dearfield Study Act],” wrote Hickenlooper and Bennet.
The Dearfield Homestead was founded in 1910 by Oliver Toussaint Jackson, who was inspired by Booker T. Washington to establish the colony with the belief that land ownership was the best path to prosperity for African Americans. At its peak, Dearfield expanded to as many as 700 residents hailing from 35 states across 140 acres, and included multiple churches, restaurants, businesses, and a hotel. A thriving agricultural community until the widespread and devastating Dust Bowl, Dearfield fostered resilience and ownership with 47 patented land claims within a 31 square-mile area. Currently, a gas station, diner, and Jackson’s home, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, remain standing.
Specifically, the Dearfield Study Act would:
- Evaluate the national significance of the site.
- Determine the suitability and feasibility of designating the site as a unit of the National Park Service.
- Consider other alternatives for preservation and protection, if applicable.
- Consult with relevant federal agencies, state/local governments, nonprofits, and private organizations.
- Identify cost estimates.
- Report to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee the results of the study and any recommendations within three years.
The full text of the letter is available HERE and below:
Dear Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso:
We respectfully request that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources schedule a legislative hearing to consider S.5031, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the site known as “Dearfield” in the State of Colorado. The bill was introduced on September 29th, 2022, and referred to your committee.
Thank you for your consideration.