Grand County takes stand against changing name of Gore Range |

Grand County takes stand against changing name of Gore Range

Amy Golden
SkyHi News
The Gore Range is seen from Vail on Aug. 20. Former Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier kicked off the process for renaming the Gore Range in 2017, but Grand County commissioners have taken a stand against renaming the mountain range that runs through Summit, Eagle, Grand and Jackson counties.
Photo by Chris Dillmann / Vail Daily

Grand County commissioners will send a letter to the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board opposing changing the name of the Gore Range.

The decision comes after a few discussions on the proposal to change the name of the mountain range that begins at Buffalo Mountain near Silverthorne, and is at the heart of the vast Eagles Nest Wilderness that continues to Summit County’s northwest and stretches into Eagle, Grand and Jackson counties.

In March, a representative of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board said that it’ll be the end of this year — at the earliest — when the board will consider and decide on the proposal to change the name. Local elected officials and wilderness advocates introduced the idea in 2017. The name change was supported by two Summit County commissioner resolutions, but hit a hurdle for support with the Grand County commissioners.

Grand County commissioners Kris Manguso and Merrit Linke opposed the change on Tuesday, Aug. 24. Commissioner Rich Cimino recused himself from discussions because he sits on the state advisory board that is requesting comments.

Feedback on the proposal was sought from the counties through which Gore Range runs, including Grand, Summit, Jackson and Eagle counties. Jackson County leaders also have sent a letter of opposition to the name change, and Eagle County officials have said they wouldn’t be taking the matter up.

Former Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier kicked off the renaming process, proposing Gore Range’s name change to Nuchu Range, meaning Ute’s Range. Leaders from the Northern Ute, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain tribes selected the name, which is meant to honor the tribes and their history in the area.

Alternatively, Gore Range is thought to be named for Sir St. George Gore, an Irish aristocrat known for his infamous hunting expedition in the 1850s. During the three-year trip through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, his party killed an estimated 4,000 bison, 1,500 elk, 2,000 deer, 1,500 antelope and 500 bears, including at least 100 grizzly bears.

Grand County commissioners sent out a poll to the public to get feedback on the possible name change, which saw 1,946 respondents. In the poll, 54.4% of people said no to changing the name of Gore Range to Nuchu Range with 45% in favor.

Grand County Surveyor Warren Ward — whose elected position focuses on the mapping of Grand — spoke to commissioners on Tuesday about his apprehension to change the name of the Gore Range.

“You cannot make a map without coming up with some sort of name,” he said. “If you look at a piece of paper with nothing but lines on it, you don’t know what it means. Many of our geographic features were named by professional surveyors. They were nonpolitical; they were nonbiased; they were nonracist. They did not disclose their party affiliation in any way.

“The maps that are all still available today to look at it are very professional, historical documents of America. Changing the names on all those maps, in my opinion, changes history.”

Commissioner Linke felt that the board had already spent more time than was needed discussing the name change and agreed with Ward’s comments. He added that getting rid of Gore’s name wouldn’t change what happened and felt that the name did not honor his exploits.

“Whether we like it or not, it is still part of our history,” Linke said. “We need to learn from that history so that we don’t repeat those things if we think those things were wrong. We need to learn from that. Changing the name of something in the present is not going to fix that.”

Manguso agreed, and the two commissioners gave direction to staff to draft a letter of opposition. The letter will come back to the commissioners for approval on Sept. 7 to meet the Sept. 15 deadline for comments.

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