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A Colorado Wilderness Holiday Gift

Dec. 17, 2021 – The Fossil Ridge Wilderness in Colorado is more than 32,000 acres of raw granite, high mountain lakes and glacier carved valleys. Along a steep ridge just below the summit of Cross Mountain sits a 183-acre property that significantly supports wildlife habitat for deer, elk, mountain goats and bighorn sheep.

A dusting of snow in the Holy Cross Wilderness

This mining claim is accessible via an old jeep road. This easy access increased the likelihood of development on the property, which is why we are thrilled to announce that The Wilderness Land Trust has closed on this property and removed these threats from the wilderness.

Northwest of the Fossil Ridge Wilderness sits the 64,304-acre Raggeds Wilderness. A 10.33-acre mining claim just outside the boundary of the designation is easily accessed by a nearby dirt road and has the flat scenic vistas that make building a significant threat. I’m delighted to tell you we have also purchased this property and removed the threat of yet another development.

Acre by acre we are fulfilling our mission to eliminate private property from within our nation’s treasured wilderness areas. Every land acquisition is an opportunity to protect vital habitat for threatened and endangered species, unify fragmented wildlands to ensure safe animal migration and conserve large, biologically diverse ecosystems across the west.

The Wilderness Land Trust is incredibly grateful to the generous supporters who make this all possible. We hope this latest news brings a smile to your face as you celebrate the holiday season.

The Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

More Protection for Colorado Wilderness – A message from Kelly Conde, lands specialist

Dec. 6, 2021 – The Wilderness Land Trust just closed on the Little Anne Lode in the Holy Cross Wilderness. This five-acre property may be small, but with both building and mining potential, posed a big risk to the wilderness area.

View of the Holy Cross Wilderness from the Little Anne Lode property

View of the Holy Cross Wilderness from the Little Anne Lode property

My first time in the Holy Cross Wilderness was this summer on a site visit to Little Anne Lode, which is just a short scramble above Upper Turquoise Lake. While the hike was very pleasant, it wasn’t until I made it over the ridge to the property that I understood the true, epic nature of the Holy Cross Wilderness.

I saw before me the swath of unencumbered land, made of rugged ridgelines and glacier-carved valleys that sits between the Vail Pass and Thompson Divide wildlife corridors, and serves as a critical passageway for everything from elk to Canada lynx.

What I didn’t see but knew was there were the many private inholdings that dot the Holy Cross Wilderness. Within these private parcels, minerals can be mined, houses built, trees logged. These parcels sit beside high mountain lakes, along scenic ridges and through clear tumbling streams. Their impact extends well beyond their borders, threatening the very nature of the wilderness.

My site visit was a necessary step in purchasing the Little Anne Lode parcel and protecting it from these threats. And now, with this acquisition, the incredible view above Upper Turquoise Lake will remain unchanged and the area unencumbered by mining or other development forever.

Little Anne Lode is one of nine properties we are working to acquire throughout Colorado, five of which are in the Holy Cross Wilderness. On Tuesday, Dec. 7, The Wilderness Land Trust is participating in #ColoradoGives, a state-wide giving campaign that will help fund our efforts to acquire and transfer private land within Colorado’s wilderness. Please visit our Colorado Gives page between now and midnight on Dec. 7. All donations made between now and the end of the year will be matched (up to $35,000) by our board of directors.

And stay tuned for some more good news coming out of Colorado later this month!

Jim Babbitt (far right) with Sarah Chase Shaw (middle) and Helene Babbitt at a Trust board meeting in 2019

Farewell to a Friend and Former Board Member

Nov. 24, 2021 – We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend and former board member, Jim Babbitt.

Jim Babbitt (far right) with Sarah Chase Shaw (middle) and Helene Babbitt at a Trust board meeting in 2019

Jim Babbitt (far right) with Sarah Chase Shaw (middle) and Helene Babbitt at a Trust board meeting in 2019

Jim joined The Wilderness Land Trust board of directors in 2016 and served for four years. “I admired him a great deal. As a board member, he would listen carefully during meetings, provide thoughtful feedback, and he always offered help and encouragement when faced with a challenge,” says Brad Borst, president, The Wilderness Land Trust.

Jim was a prominent figure in his hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona. He authored three historical books on Flagstaff and was a longtime advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, helping to preserve our country’s historic buildings, neighborhoods and communities. In addition to his work at the Trust, Jim also championed several conservation organizations, including the Grand Canyon Trust, where he worked to preserve and protect the landscapes and Native peoples of the Colorado Plateau.

Denise Schlener, board chair, had this to say about her fellow board member: “Jim had many gifts. Among them was a gentle style that belied how strong his passions were, including his love of wilderness. He was an engaged listener who wasn’t interested in offering his own opinion until he understood the issue and heard from everyone.  When he did speak, everyone listened.”

According to Sarah Chase Shaw, Trust board member and longtime family friend, “Jim exhibited a quiet humility that comes from having the confidence to stick up for what he believed in. Jim’s legacy will reflect a deep belief in family, community, history, and a love for the vast northern Arizona landscape, a place he knew like the back of his hand.”

The Wilderness Land Trust will miss Jim dearly, and our hearts go out to Jim’s wife Helene, his son Charlie, and the rest of his family.