This Colorado Astronaut Wants To Donate 40 Acres Of Very Earth-y Land To RMNP. But First, Congress Has To Say Yes

Vance Brand
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP, NASA
Left: Former U.S. astronaut Vance Brand, one of the participants of Apollo-Soyuz space flight, the first international space mission, smiles speaking to the media in Moscow, Russia, July 20, 2010. Right: Brand pictured with his space suit in 1971.

Former Colorado astronaut Vance Brand wants to donate 40 acres of land he owns to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Doing so will literally take an act of Congress. 

So, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner teamed up with two Democrats — Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse — and introduced legislation on Tuesday that would accept the donation of land along the park's eastern edge.

Vance grew up in Longmont and bought the land in 1967. It’s located northeast of Longs Peak in terrain that’s above 9,000 feet. He announced the donation last month. In a letter of support for the legislation, Vance wrote that he hopes Congress will accept the land on behalf of the American people.

“My view is that this donation is payback to the American people in appreciation for the wonderful times and many benefits that I received from great experiences in RMNP,” he wrote.

Gardner said he’s grateful for Vance's commitment to share more of the park with the public.

“I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Sen. Bennet and Congressman Neguse to respect this hero’s wishes and make this donation official,” Gardner said.

Bennet described the donation as “exciting news,” while Neguse added this will benefit the state’s outdoor economy.

“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,” Neguse said.

The legislation also has the support of local leaders. The Larimer County commissioners and Estes Park Mayor Todd Jirsa all signed letters of support for the deal. 

The bill would also fix a previous donation that accidentally included a cabin belonging to the Forsyth family via a land swap.