Roscoe Conklin Lode

The Wilderness Land Trust Helps Colorado Family Convert a Mining Legacy into Permanently Protected Wilderness

The Wilderness Land Trust Helps Colorado Family Convert a Mining Legacy into Permanently Protected Wilderness

Oct. 09, 2015

Organization secures an alpine landscape underneath the shadow of towering 14ers


CARBONDALE, CO … Mined until just a few decades ago, the mountainside underneath a cascading waterfall in the San Juan Mountains is now secure from future gold exploration and impacts of a switchbacking access road. During the summer of 2015, The Wilderness Land Trust was able to purchase the 10.33 acre Roscoe Conklin Lode mining claim from a private landowner and transfer it to the US Forest Service for inclusion in wilderness. With a cache of family stories of young men sent out to work the mine in the 1930’s, keeping out of trouble during summers away from school, the landowner is pleased that the mining claim is now forever protected. “Thank you for rescuing the claim,” he shares.


Although small in acreage, this acquisition helps to secure the more than 102,000 acres that make up the Wilderness – further reducing the threat of mining or development from within those wilderness boundaries. Located in the San Juan Mountains, points of interest in the Uncompahgre Wilderness include: Uncompahgre Peak (14,309’), Wetterhorn Peak (14,015’), Matterhorn Peak, Coxcomb Peak, Silver Peak, Slide Lake, and Big Blue Creek.  It is a recreation mecca for hikers, backpackers and peak-baggers as well as home to mountain lions, black bears and bighorn sheep. But, gold mining within wilderness remains a very real threat, with current proposals and active mines stripping mountainsides for gold and other minerals, activity still allowable under the General Mining Act of 1872.


The Wilderness Land Trust has been acquiring private lands, holes in our iconic Colorado wilderness areas since 1992 and has now transferred 114 parcels in the state to public ownership. The Trust aims to reduce and eliminate uses incompatible with wilderness values, thus securing the promise of wilderness that was made when our wilderness areas were designated by Congress. The Wilderness Land Trust has already helped reduce private inholdings nationwide by half in the last 20 years.  


The Wilderness Land Trust was able to purchase these lands when the landowners were ready to sell thanks to private donors, lenders and foundations that contribute to its Wilderness Opportunity Fund. For more information on supporting a project important to you, please visit


Roscoe Conklin Lode



The National Wilderness Preservation System

Wilderness is a refuge for animals, plants, clean water, clean air and a foundation for 21st century conservation. It may hold the key to future conservation and the tools for adapting to global climate change. However, the system is still filled with holes, 180,000 acres of private lands that fracture the whole. Across the country there are plans to develop mines, retreats, logging operations and resorts deep within wilderness holdings, fragmenting a resource that cannot afford to be lost.  The Trust’s continuing mission to eliminate these pockets of inholdings and create a seamless wilderness system is vital, echoing the spirit and intent of the original Wilderness Act. The Wilderness Land Trust is the only national organization dedicated solely to buying these lands and adding them to the National Wilderness Preservation System.


The Wilderness Land Trust

The Wilderness Land Trust (WLT) is a small, highly specialized nonprofit organization established to buy and protect wilderness land. Since it was founded in 1992, the non-profit organization has preserved 421 parcels comprised of more than 42,300 acres of wilderness inholdings in 95 designated and proposed wilderness areas. The Wilderness Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization, has offices in California and Colorado. WLT is an accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and is a 1% for the Planet Non-Profit Partner. For more information visit our website


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