Western National Parks Association

WNPA operates the bookstore and uses net proceeds from bookstore sales to further educational work in our national parks. The funds are returned to the National Park Service to fund educational programs and publications, including the Great Sand Dunes newspaper.

Friends of the Dunes

Friends of the Dunes Inc. is a non-profit citizens support group for Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The Friends provide a forum for citzen involvement in planning, provide financial and volunteer assistance to the dunes and focus public interest on issues impacting the National Park. The Friends funded part of the new Visitor Center film, they sponsor an annual bird count, and they give financial support for the current parkwide archeological survey.

For more information, or to become a Friend, call 719-378-6381, or complete the form available at the Visitor Center.

The Nature Conservancy of Colorado

The Nature Conservancy is an international, non-profit organization that preserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. In 1999, the Conservancy purchased the spectacular Zapata-Medano Ranch, a 103,000-acre property that is now partly within Great Sand Dunes National Park. The acquisition of this preserve assures the long-term protection of this special landscape which harbors more than 200 species of birds, a large herd of bison, and a number of rare plant and animal species. Bison herds' customary grazing behaviors are an important element in maintaining the natural ecological system.

Through sound ecological management of these spacious grasslands and wetlands, the Conservancy partners with the National Park Service in maintaining the entire geological and biological system of the Great Sand Dunes.

In 2005, the Nature Conservancy, along with a unique consortium of private, state, and federal partners, completed the purchase of the 97,000-acre Baca Ranch. The purchase of this ranch was mandated by legislation in order to create the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, and significant additions to the Rio Grande National Forest. Together, these properties represent one of the largest, most diverse and unfragmented landscapes in the state of Colorado.

By Audrey Wolk, Director of Marketing and Outreach, The Nature Conservancy