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Bents Old Fort: Local Officials Urge Preservation of Unique Tourist Attraction

(the following is a news release from Otero County Administer, Amy White-Tanabe)

Otero County, Colorado – February 7, 2024 - In a heartfelt letter addressed to the National Park Service, officials from Otero County, Colorado express their strong support for preserving the historical significance of Bents Old Fort, a landmark that has served as the primary tourist attraction in the region for nearly 50 years.


Bents Old Fort is renowned for providing visitors with an immersive experience, featuring interactions with animals and historical reenactments by dedicated actors. The potential elimination of these integral features, as recommended in a recent consultant’s report, has raised concerns among the local community and officials.


Chairman Rob Oquist, alongside Commissioner Tim Knabenshue and Commissioner Jim Baldwin, emphasizes the importance of these elements to the tourist appeal of Southeast Colorado. The letter conveys the collective sentiment of constituents, expressing non-support for the proposed changes and advocating for a deferment of alterations until a town hall meeting can be organized.


The proposed meeting aims to provide citizens with a platform to voice concerns and propose collaborative solutions for the future of Bents Old Fort. The officials acknowledge the necessity of decision-making but stress the importance of balancing preservation efforts with potential challenges and negative impacts on park operations.


Recognizing that safety is paramount for park visitors, workers, and animals, the letter emphasizes the need for ongoing operations to prioritize these aspects while securing funding for their sustainability.


The officials respectfully seek an audience with the National Park Service to explore viable options moving forward. While proposing a town hall meeting as the ideal forum for discussion, they express openness to forming a committee if the former proves unfeasible, ensuring effective representation of the people of Southeast Colorado in this crucial discourse.


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We're come to a critical crossroads on Bents Old Fort. The community needs to rally behind County Commissioners Rob Oquist, Tim Knabenshue and Jim Baldwin.

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