It’s a rare moment when ranchers and environmentalists see eye-to-eye — and yet a collaboration between the two parties is leading to the creation of the nation’s 57th national park. The unlikely relationship began when enviros and ranchers realized they had something in common: a need to protect the water resources in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Although it receives very little rainfall, the valley traps runoff from neighboring mountain ranges, replenishing its aquifer and making the region rich in H20, one of the state’s most prized resources. The water is a lifeline for thousands of ranchers in the area — and it is also the golden goose for investors who would like to export the water for profit. To prevent that from happening, ranchers and environmentalists helped dream up the Great Sand Dunes National Park, combining a sand dunes national monument, marshes, mountains, and the 97,000-acre Baca Ranch recently purchased by the Nature Conservancy. The park, which will be one of the most diverse in the nation, has already been approved by Congress and could become a reality as early as 2005.