Amid ongoing statewide conversations about geographic features’ controversial names and namesakes, Clear Creek’s county commissioners have stated they’re open to ideas about renaming Mount Evans, Squaw Mountain and its related items.
Earlier this month, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order creating the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board to evaluate naming controversies and proposals for new names.
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has final approval for federal maps and products.
The state naming board will have up to 15 members, including representatives from the Colorado General Assembly, the Colorado Commission for Indian Affairs, the Colorado Geological Survey and the Colorado Tourism Office. It will also include representatives who have a background in race or ethnic studies or who are from an institution of cultural learning that focuses on traditionally underrepresented or displaced communities.
During the July 21 county commissioners meeting, Commissioner Randy Wheelock said he was OK with the state board pursuing name changes for local features and then asking the county for comment.
“I’m fine with renaming Squaw Pass,” he said. “With Mount Evans, though, I’m open to discussion on that.”
Commissioner Sean Wood agreed and said he wanted to see what the naming board would propose.
While Commissioner George Marlin said he supported removing names that are racially charged, he noted that there would be costs associated with it — such as changing signs and maps, and updating equipment for first responders — and that the county has historically opposed these name changes.
“Clear Creek County is one voice among many in this conversation,” he said. “… It would be reasonable to ask that the cost of (changing signs, etc.) not be borne by our taxpayers or solely by our taxpayers.”
Marlin added that he believes cost-related challenges can be overcome, stating, “I want to ensure those concerns are brought forward … while also coming from a position of support.”
While state officials are handling the geographic features, Wheelock described two mining claims in Clear Creek with names that he called pejorative and racist. County Surveyor Greg Markle has noted this issue in the past and is working with the landowners to change the names, Wheelock said, adding that the landowners support it.
While commissioners and county staff weren’t sure what the renaming process for mining claims looks like — whether it’s handled at the county or federal level — the commissioners said they would help the landowners in their efforts.