Tag Archive for: Independence Pass

Daily News-Record – Wilderness Land Trust Completes First Project East Of The Rockies

The Harrisonburg Daily-News Record celebrates the Trust’s first project east of the Rockies protecting 10 acres adjoining Virginia’s Priest Wildernss

January 24, 2024

SF Gate – California tech founder relinquishes nearly 1,000 acres of private land for public use

SF Gate celebrates the Trust’s recent transfer of 917 acres adjoining the Sanhedrin Wilderness to public ownership.

January 3

Aspen Daily News- Donation puts land east of Independence Pass summit into public hands

The Aspen Daily News celebrates the Trust’s recent acquisition of the 275-acre Champion Mine South property just outside the Mount Massive Wilderness.

December 1, 2023

Protecting the slopes of Mount Champion

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.

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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

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.