Land between Aspen, Crested Butte bought for wilderness

Wilderness Land Trust

Land between Aspen, Crested Butte bought for wilderness

Land between Aspen, Crested Butte bought for wilderness
Carbondale-based Wilderness Land Trust helps acquire highly visible parcel
Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE — A 10-acre patented mining claim perched on a high ridge between Aspen and Crested Butte was purchased this week by a Carbondale-based organization that will hand it over to the U.S. Forest Service to be managed as wilderness.

The Wilderness Land Trust purchased the Denver Lode for $12,500 in partnership with the National Park Trust.

The Denver Lode is about 2.5 miles northeast of the old mining town of Gothic, along the Copper Creek trailhead. The property is also in the same valley as the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, which researches issues such as climate change in the mountains.

The title will be handed to the Forest Service for inclusion in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

The land is highly visible along the popular hiking and biking corridor between Aspen and Crested Butte. Reid Haughey, executive director of Wilderness Land Trust, said the patented mining claim was vulnerable to development, even though it is within wilderness. There is an old road going to it that is “an attractive nuisance” for off-road vehicles even though they would have to cross specially protected wilderness lands to reach the Denver Lode. Wilderness designation prohibits motorized and mechanized uses, but it isn’t always easy to enforce.

Wilderness Land Trust buys private inholdings in wilderness and gets them into the hands of the Forest Service and other public land management agencies. Since it was founded in 1992, it has preserve 344 parcels comprising about 31,000 acres of wilderness holdings.

Haughey, a former Pitkin County manager, said the organization works around the West. It was rewarding to get involved in a purchase in its own back yard.

The trust assesses development threats to inholdings in wilderness and establishes priorities on what to purchase. The Denver Lode was owned by a party in Frisco who was a willing seller, he said. They have been discussing a deal since 2006.