Partnership Protects One of Nation’s Most Spectacular Wilderness Areas: The Maroon Bells -- Snowmass Wilderness

Partnership Protects One of Nation’s Most Spectacular Wilderness Areas: The Maroon Bells -- Snowmass Wilderness

Dec. 20, 2010

Gunnison County, CO  – The Wilderness Land Trust and The National Park Trust announce the protection of a 10-acre property perched on a high ridge within the Maroon Bells -- Snowmass Wilderness.  The Wilderness Area, which may exemplify Rocky Mountain splendor better than any other Wilderness Area in the country, is located between Crested Butte and Aspen Colorado.  Through a partnership with the National Park Trust, the Wilderness Land Trust will donate the so-called Denver Lode parcel to the United States Forest Service for inclusion in the 181,500-acre Maroon Bells -- Snowmass Wilderness for protection in perpetuity.  


The Denver Lode property is visible from Crested Butte and was originally patented as a mining claim, which makes it vulnerable to development.  It is also part of a patchwork of mining claims which make up the so-called High Elk Corridor conservation effort. Conservationists have been working to protect the High Elk Corridor from development since 1996; the acquisition of the Denver Lode parcel brings conservationists one step closer to preserving this stretch of Rocky Mountain splendor.   The property is also in the same valley as the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, and its protection will help preserve the laboratory’s research work on climate change.


The Wilderness Land Trust has been working to complete the purchase of the Denver Lode since 2006, in an effort to preserve the property in its natural state and add it to the Wilderness Area. Thanks to a generous gift from the Barrett Foundation to the National Park Trust, the property will be donated to the United States Forest Service for permanent protection.


"This donation would not have been possible without the strong partnership of the Wilderness Land Trust and the National Park Trust.  We have been working to purchase private lands in this area to complete the wilderness and protect it for the public’s enjoyment.  We appreciate the Wilderness Land Trust and the National Park Trust for their efforts to help up protect this pristine area,” said Charlie Richmond, Forest Supervisor for the Gunnison National Forest.    


“When I hiked into the property, I was amazed at how important it is to add the property to the wilderness,” said David Kirk, Senior Lands Specialist for the Wilderness Land Trust.  “The property is at the headwaters of a beautiful side basin of Copper Creek and runs all the way up to the crest of a very visible ridge.  Any development would have had a staggering impact to the surrounding wilderness.  We are very grateful that the National Park Trust was able to raise the funds to complete this donation.”

“Protecting key in-holdings from development is integral to the mission of National Park Trust,” according to Jonathan Cohen, NPT Lands Committee Chair. “We are very pleased to work with the WLT on this important land preservation project.”


National Park Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of our nation's critical parklands and reconnecting our youth – especially those that are underserved – to nature. NPT's mission is to provide important recreational and educational parkland opportunities for current and future generations. As people spend more time indoors and as successive generations grow up with less of a connection to nature, NPT wants to build greater awareness and appreciation for the importance of our country's public lands and parks. To achieve this, NPT seeks to champion the acquisition and preservation of critical national, state and local parklands and to build a greater awareness through education – focusing on our youth. 


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