December 1, 2023-
The Wilderness Land Trust recently acquired 275 acres on the slopes of Mount Champion, just outside Colorado’s Mt. Massive Wilderness.
Less than an hour from the Roaring Fork Valley, locals and visitors have long been drawn to Independence Pass for its panoramic vistas and recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities. Mount Champion stands tall above the pass and, while the area is a popular destination, much of the peak’s south and west faces have been privately owned and at risk of development.
This month Amy Margerum Berg, owner of 275-acres on the west face of Mount Champion, generously donated the property to The Wilderness Land Trust to be subsequently transferred to public ownership in San Isabel National Forest. The property stretches from the North Fork of Lake Creek almost to the summit and includes remnants of the Champion Mine which was active from 1907-1940 mining gold, silver, copper, and lead.
“My late husband, Charles “Chuck” McLean, had the foresight to purchase these mining claims with the intent of protecting them from development. My son, Slater McLean, and I are so proud to be donating this land in his honor. He loved this land more than anything and spent hours exploring and hiking every inch of this spectacular backcountry wilderness. He would be very happy to know that the land will now be protected forever,” says Amy Margerum Berg.
The popular North Fork Lake Creek Trail leads hikers, backpackers, and horsemen into the 30,000-acre Mount Massive Wilderness and runs through the base of the donated property. Protecting the property under public ownership will ensure public access on the trail and mitigate the management and liability concerns that have recently cut off access to several of Colorado’s 14ers. The donation also protects important wildlife habitat, spanning from streamside riparian zones to alpine meadows above treeline, and is home to bighorn sheep.
The Champion Mine South property is just up the drainage from the 20-acre Blue Lake property which The Trust added to designated wilderness last year, removing the last remaining inholding in the Mount Massive Wilderness.