Like so many designated Wilderness areas across the country, the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness was vulnerable to the threat of road construction and residential development via patches of private inholdings. Nestled amidst protected wilderness, this private land had the potential to block access, threaten critical wildlife and native plant habitat, and become home to anyone wanting to build a private residence within the designated wilderness.
It was nearly a decade ago when The Wilderness Land Trust first reached out to the owners of 19 acres of private property that connects the popular Grandview and Spotted Tail Lodes. Through continued conversations over the years and by partnering with the Independence Pass Foundation, The Wilderness Land Trust acquired two private inholdings within the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in 2017. The 19 acres included in the purchase are comprised of the Grandview and Spotted Tail Lodes.
By acquiring these properties, the Trust not only removed the threat of development along a popular hiking trail, it preserved critical wildlife habitat for deer, elk, black bears and native plants that find refuge on the alpine ridges throughout the property.
It also ensures the survival of Eriophorum altaicum, commonly known as Alti or White Cottongrass. Karen Teague, executive director of the Independence Pass Foundation, says this unique perennial plant species was first discovered in Colorado in 1934. “The rare and wonderfully Dr. Seuss-like Altai Cottongrass is found in only a few high mountain areas in Colorado,” says Teague. “It is truly a special find for hikers enjoying the Grandview and Spotted Tail parcels, and now it is protected for all time. On behalf of everyone who loves Independence Pass and its unique flora, thank you Wilderness Land Trust!”
Preservation of vital habitat for animals and plants such as Alti Cottongrass is a significant benefit of the work The Wilderness Land Trust brings to each project completed because it permanently removes a threat that can impede or prevent their survival. On the Grandview and Spotted Tail Lodes, the future looks very bright for this rare species of plant.
About The Independence Pass Foundation
The Independence Pass Foundation
, was established in 1990 to restore and protect the ecological, historical and aesthetic integrity of the independence Pass corridor and to encourage stewardship, safety, and appreciation of the Pass.