Tag Archive for: Colorado

A steep granite cliff plunges into the deep waters of Alaska's inside passage.

Alaska “Fortress of the Bears” Wilderness Needs Protection

A steep granite cliff plunges into the deep waters of Alaska's inside passage.

Comprising the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is a place filled with islands and salmon streams, where towering mountains sweep down into thick old-growth forest and granite cliffs drop into deep fjords Photo credit: Ingrid Ougland

March 25, 2022 – It’s been 30 years since The Wilderness Land Trust protected its first parcel of land. Nearly 25 years later we landed in Alaska, purchasing the largest remaining private inholding in the Chuck River Wilderness in partnership with the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. The 154-acre Windham Bay parcel was transferred to the public for permanent protection almost exactly a year ago.

Together we are now working to protect more wilderness in Alaska. The Kootznoowoo (Fortress of the Bears) and Chuck River Wilderness areas in the Tongass National Forest surround the Inside Passage waterway, connecting more than 2.2 million acres of public land. The size and connectivity of these wild lands filled with coastal rivers and rare muskeg wetlands provide a high level of resilience in the face of climate change that allow grizzlies, salmon, mountain goats, wolves and humpback whales to thrive. The Tlingit village of Angoon on Admiralty Island is home to more than 500 people. Several other rural communities, including the nearby village of Kake, depend on these wilderness areas for subsistence harvests.

Old mining equipment in the Chuck River Wilderness

Old mining equipment in the Chuck River Wilderness

Within the 2.2 million acres of public land, clusters of private lands left over from old mining camps exist, threatening the surrounding wilderness with the prospect of timber and mineral extraction as well as residential development.

The Wilderness Land Trust is now working to acquire two properties to prevent cabin development along Wheeler Creek and the Chuck River in the Kootznoowoo and Chuck River Wilderness areas, protecting the salmon, grizzly and black bears that call them home. When this work is complete, a total of 33 acres of new wild lands will be added to the Tongass National Forest and permanently protected from private development, safeguarding more than 2.2 million acres of public land they impact.

Please take the time to learn more about our work in Alaska and join our fight to save this extraordinary wilderness. If you’ve already joined our Alaska campaign, thank you for your support. We cannot do this work without you.

A Muskeg wetland in the Chuck River Wilderness. These wetlands tend to have a water table near the surface and the sphagnum moss forming in it can hold 15 to 30 times its own weight in water, making it an ideal habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species.

A Muskeg wetland in the Chuck River Wilderness. These wetlands tend to have a water table near the surface and the sphagnum moss forming in it can hold 15 to 30 times its own weight in water, making it an ideal habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species.

A whale tail makes an appearance in Alaska

A common sight along Southeast Alaska’s inside passage.

Hercules Lode looking at Fancy Lake

More Protection in the Holy Cross Wilderness

From Hercules Lode looking at Fancy Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness

From Hercules Lode looking at Fancy Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness

March 11, 2022 – Today we closed on two more parcels in the Holy Cross Wilderness of Colorado. These properties, the Chance and Hercules Lodes, total 25 acres and are located on the southwest side of the wilderness.

I had the good fortune of visiting these properties with my cousin, who happens to live close by. Until that day, my cousin was unfamiliar with my job and so, as we hiked past the wooden Holy Cross Wilderness sign, I described the mission of The Wilderness Land Trust and why our work is important. I told her that, while the ground we were walking on is thought to have the highest level of land protection, there are actually significant holes in that protection.

When we reached the first of the two parcels, the flat, beautiful 5-acre Hercules Lode which runs along the east shore of Fancy Lake, my cousin was shocked.

“This is private property?!”

I explained that these pieces of private land are not only a threat because of the opportunities for cabins to be built, mines dug, trees felled.  They are a threat because they siphon off resources otherwise used to manage the surrounding wilderness. Their mere existence degrades the integrity of the wilderness area.

The good news is, The Wilderness Land Trust has a way to remove this threat and make our wilderness areas truly protected.

We’ve been at it for 30 years.

In Colorado alone, we have protected more than 6,000 acres of private land and the innumerable acres of surrounding public land with our work.

And today, we can add another 25 acres to that number.

We are grateful for all of our supporters who make our work protecting wilderness possible. We truly couldn’t do it without you.

-Kelly Conde, Wilderness Land Trust Lands Specialist

View of Mulhall Lake from Chance Lode

View of Mulhall Lake from Chance Lode

Photo of Hercules Lode which runs along the east side of Fancy Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness

Photo of Hercules Lode which runs along the east side of Fancy Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness

Looking down on the southeast corner of the Holy Cross Wilderness on the hike to Chance Lode

Looking down on the southeast corner of the Holy Cross Wilderness on the hike to Chance Lode

Light snow on the ridge behind a lake, as seen from the Northern Lode property

More Protection for Wilderness in Colorado

Light snow on the ridge behind a lake, as seen from the Northern Lode property

A spectacular view from the Northern Lode property

Feb. 25, 2022 – Today, The Wilderness Land Trust closed on the Northern Lode property, a 10-acre parcel on the eastern side of the Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado. The Northern Lode is a true wilderness inholding, meaning it is completely surrounded by federally designated wilderness and will automatically become a new addition to the Holy Cross upon transfer.

I visited this property on a crisp, sunny day last October. The parcel is a three-mile trek into the wilderness area and sits just south of the 13,000-foot Homestake Peak on a steep, scree-filled slope.

As with every project site visit, this trip was a combination of pleasure and work. I got to punch through the first snow of the season, scramble up rocky slopes and soak in rugged ridgelines. I also investigated the remnants of old mining pits just off the property boundary and checked off another step towards acquisition. This trip ended up being my last wilderness hike of the year, closing another season of mountain wandering.

A snowy view of the mountains from the Northern Lode propertySo now, in mid-winter, this property sits close in my mind and makes its acquisition that much sweeter to me.

We are so grateful to all of our supporters for helping us continue this great work. To date, we have protected 6,086 acres in Colorado and are actively working on acquiring another 55 acres in this state. Please check out our current Colorado work online and stay tuned for more good news from across the western United States!

-Kelly Conde, Wilderness Land Trust Lands Specialist

Volunteers at the cabin removal site

Volunteers Restore Colorado Wilderness

Volunteers at the cabin removal site

Hearty volunteers in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Sept. 3, 2021 – The Wilderness Land Trust is deeply grateful for the invaluable partnerships formed on many of our projects and this summer was no exception. In August 2020, the Trust purchased the 19-acre Panama/Principal Lode property outside of Aspen, Colorado knowing extensive work needed to be completed on site before it could be incorporated into the surrounding Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.

To help with this effort, the Trust reached out to The Independence Pass Foundation (IPF) for help with the cleanup, but rather than just assisting, IPF took charge. Throughout the summer, Executive Director Karin Teague, along with a band of hearty IPF volunteers, made multiple trips to the property to haul out countless bags of garbage in preparation for a two-day intensive work party scheduled for mid-August.

Volunteers removing the cabin roof

Volunteers remove the cabin roof with hand tools

On August 12-13, the Trust, IPF, and the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) spent two long days emptying a historic cabin of anything not considered historic by the U.S. Forest Service. This included the removal of a heavy wood stove, plywood flooring and glass windows. We also dismantled the metal roof and underlayment — all done with hand tools and carried out on foot to waiting trucks at the trailhead.

We are grateful for this energetic cleanup operation made possible by our terrific partners. If you happen to run into Karin on Independence Pass sometime, be sure to say thanks in appreciation of all her hard work!

A view of the cabin with the roof removed

A view of the cabin with the roof removed

Sunrise Juniper Dunes Wilderness

Summertime Site Visits

Site visit photo in the Raggeds Wilderness

The Raggeds Wilderness

August 6, 2021 – Summertime is peak field season for the lands staff, particularly in the northern states where access to designated wilderness becomes possible once the mountain snow begins to melt. It’s a time to physically inspect potential new land acquisitions, as well as fulfill our annual site visit requirement for properties the Trust is working to transfer to public ownership.

For the past four weeks, land specialist Kelly Conde has been doing just that, starting with the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in her home state of Idaho. The rugged nature of this wilderness area can present a formidable challenge while researching a property, and she got a taste of this while scrambling up a steep ridge with breathtaking views of the Salmon River below.

The following week’s adventure was all about the deep drainages and mountainous inclines found in the Wild Sky and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness areas of Washington state. According to Kelly, she “mastered the art of the vegetation belay where any bush or small tree can be used to lower oneself down a very steep slope” as she visited three potential new land acquisitions.

Moving on to Colorado, Kelly walked through the high alpine tundra of the Fossil Ridge Wilderness, endless aspen groves of the Holy Cross Wilderness and thick wildflowers of the Raggeds Wilderness. She tells us she may have seen a wolverine scampering across a 12,400-foot scree field in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness (though none have been officially documented in Colorado since 2009).

Over four weeks, 11 properties in nine wilderness areas were inspected, each unique and entirely worthy of permanent protection as federally designated wilderness.

Thank you for your generous contributions that provide the funding for our land staff to complete these site visits, a critical step in the process of protecting a wilderness area near you.

Fossil Ridge Wilderness

Fossil Ridge Wilderness (Photo credit: Kelly Conde)

Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness

Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness  (Photo credit: Kelly Conde)

 

 

 

 

The view from a recent site visit in the Wilderness

Holy Cross Wilderness (photo credit: Kelly Conde)

More Protection for Wild Sky Wilderness

Beautiful Silver Lake is a popular hiking destination in Washington

February 12, 2021 – Exploring the Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington state is like stepping back in time before early settlers began to dramatically alter the landscape. Thickly forested slopes and valleys lie in the shadow of high jagged peaks, protecting nearly all of the flora and fauna that existed hundreds of years ago. Old-growth trees and endangered wildlife species thrive as a result of its remote location, mind-boggling amount of annual precipitation and permanent protection via wilderness designation.

Unfortunately, the landscape is also riddled with mining claims from a time when resource extraction helped to fuel the growth of nearby Seattle and its surrounding area. Development of these claims threaten the very characteristics for which the designation was established.

In response, The Wilderness Land Trust has worked diligently for more than two decades to acquire these claims. Thanks to your generous support, we have purchased nearly 1,500 acres in designated wilderness areas throughout Washington, including the Wild Sky, Henry M. Jackson, Buckhorn, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker and Juniper Dunes Wilderness areas.

Adding to this total is another 31-acre parcel we recently purchased in the heart of the Wild Sky Wilderness, thereby removing the threat of mining or private development on this property forever. Additional protection is on the way this year, and I look forward to sharing more good news as several new projects develop.

Learn how you can help us protect this special northwest landscape and others throughout the western United States.

A Cherished Team Member Departs

Lisa Janeway on a recent site visit in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

Lisa Janeway on a recent site visit in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

January 29, 2020 – In 2013, Lisa Janeway joined The Wilderness Land Trust as administrative director, helping to manage the day-to-day needs of the organization. Her unbeatable combination of smarts, tireless work ethic and attention to detail resulted in her promotion to director of operations in 2019, occupying an important role within our lands program to help ensure each successful project.

Always up for an outdoor adventure, some of Lisa’s favorite project site visit memories include navigating a treacherous two-track in a 2WD truck on ranch property before it was added to the Sabinoso Wilderness, scrambling on foot across alpine tundra high in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness looking for boundary markers, and running for cover during an afternoon lightning storm high atop a plateau in the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico.

Lisa recently shared what she appreciated most about her time at the Trust: “I am beyond grateful for the opportunities The Wilderness Land Trust has provided me in the last eight years. Every member of the staff and board is deeply committed to wilderness and that personal connection is felt in every decision made. The Trust is continually marching forward, even during challenging times. Thank you to all of the partners and donors that make this work possible!”

Good things come to good people, and while we’re sad to announce that Lisa is leaving the Trust, all of us are thrilled about a well-earned opportunity to pursue the next step in her conservation career. Well done!

Thank you Lisa, for eight years of outstanding dedication to The Wilderness Land Trust. We look forward to seeing you shine in your new role as stewardship director of the Mountain Area Land Trust in Colorado, and hopefully partnering on a future project together.

Protecting Natural Processes in Colorado’s Wilderness

December 7, 2020 – Wildfires are a natural occurrence within Colorado’s forest ecosystem, paving the way for removal of dead trees and plant debris, regenerating the soil, and creating a mosaic of young and old trees that support a diversity of wildlife species. But the development of private land within designated wilderness disrupts this natural process and puts homes and lives, including firefighters, in danger as agencies direct considerable resources to suppress them.

Colorado’s Mount Massive Wilderness

As you contemplate many worthy causes to support on Colorado Gives Day this Tuesday, consider our work in the Collegiate Peaks and Mount Massive Wilderness areas. In the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, we recently purchased 19-acres of land on spectacular Independence Pass and removed the last remaining threat of private development from this section of the wilderness. In the Mount Massive Wilderness, where Coloradans find peace in dropping a line, soaking in the sun and admiring native wildflowers, we are in the process of transferring a final inholding to the U.S. Forest Service, making this beautiful wilderness whole.

Since The Wilderness Land Trust’s first land acquisition in Colorado in 1992, we have purchased 126 private parcels of land totaling 5,868 acres to prevent development in Colorado’s designated wilderness areas and reduce the dangers inherent to wildfire season.

Thank you for your unwavering support in our work. Please join us for Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 8 or schedule your donation in advance. We couldn’t do it without partners like you.

The Trust Removes Development Threat from Independence Pass

September 2, 2020 – The Wilderness Land Trust has purchased a 19-acre inholding east of Aspen just off of Highway 82 in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. In the last three years, the organization has purchased two other inholdings totaling an additional 19 acres and with this most recent purchase, the Trust has removed the last remaining threat of private development in this area of the Collegiate Peaks.

This 19-acre parcel is visible from the road and along a popular hiking trail. Without protection, it was vulnerable to residential development, which would have disrupted plant and animal habitat and threatened access to the trail. With a generous matching grant from a local resident and contributions from the AABC, Alpenglow, BF, Independence Pass, Iselin and Oak Foundations, as well as numerous individuals in the Aspen area, the Trust raised the funds needed to acquire this critical property.

Purchasing this land is the first of a two step process. The Trust will now work with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to clean up the property before transferring it to public ownership. This work includes removing a metal roof, wood burning stove and other debris from in and around a cabin. Because the cabin is of historical significance, the log walls will remain. Once cleanup of the property is complete, the Trust plans to transfer the property to the USFS to be incorporated into the surrounding wilderness area.

“Our mission is to keep the promise of wilderness by acquiring and transferring private lands to public ownership that complete designated and proposed wilderness areas,” says Brad Borst, president, The Wilderness Land Trust. “The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness near Independence Pass is a special region known for its magnificent alpine landscapes. We are grateful for the generous support from local organizations and residents who jumped in to help us protect this piece of Colorado paradise.”

The Wilderness Land Trust is partnering with The Independence Pass Foundation to raise the funds needed to complete the transfer of this project. Individuals or organizations interested in helping can contact Kelly Conde at kelly@wildernesslandtrust.org or 206-842-1214.

A Jaw-Dropping Experience on Independence Pass

May 15, 2020 – Snow-capped mountains, high alpine meadows and hairpin turns are just a few experiences to enjoy on Independence Pass, located at 12,000 feet above

“I’m most at home in the upper reaches of Colorado’s high alpine country, where life barely hangs on beneath the shelter of the surrounding peaks.” – Colorado native Spencer Shaw on top of Independence Pass

sea level near Aspen, Colorado. This breathtaking region is adjacent three wilderness areas, including the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, an area we’ve been working hard to protect for more than a decade.

This past year we transferred the nine-acre Grandview Lode to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the surrounding wilderness, to be followed by the adjacent 10-acre Spotted Tail Lode. This area of the wilderness is a popular hiking spot and if you journey high enough, you’ll find access to climbing and jaw-dropping views of the Continental Divide.

We are also working to transfer a 20-acre property we acquired near Blue Lake within the Mount Massive Wilderness. This lake is just a three-mile hike from the pass, and as our young friend Spencer (pictured above) points out, it’s a perfect place to drop a line, soak in some sunshine and admire the wildflowers.

Since 1992, you have helped the Trust acquire nearly 5,900 acres in Colorado and transfer more than 5,700 to public ownership, and we look forward to sharing the details of several new projects currently under development.