“There can be no
purpose more inspiring than to begin the age of restoration,
reweaving the wondrous diversity of life that still surrounds
The Trust for Land Restoration (TLR) -- a non-profit land trust based in Ridgway and working statewide -- is recognized as a leader in understanding and managing environmental liability so that lands degraded by mining and other human impacts can be restored and conserved. TLR primarily works in two ways:
Since its inception in 2000, TLR has been responsible for winning more than $1 Million in grants and contracts for itself and its partners to characterize and cleanup abandoned mine sites, principally in Ouray, San Miguel, and Summit Counties. TLR’s partners have brought an additional $2.5 M to these projects. As a land trust, TLR now holds 12 conservation easements totaling 3215 acres of protected land in Ouray and San Miguel Counties. Among the easements TLR holds are San Miguel County Down Valley Park that facilitated funding of pond and river corridor restoration at the park using Idarado Resource Damage Fund money; four easements on Iron Springs Mesa northeast of Placerville that protect Gunnison sage grouse habitat; and an easement protecting the historic Yankee Girl Mine near Red Mountain Pass in Ouray County that allows for the restoration of one of the San Juan’s most iconic mine buildings, visible from US 550, which is the San Juan Skyway, Colorado’s only designated National Scenic and Historic Byway.
TLR is one of the few land trusts in Colorado that understand and work with mining claims. Dispersed home and cabin development in the Rocky Mountains often impacts scenic open space and natural habitat values. Privately owned, patented mining claims are particularly problematic, because each claim, regardless of size, typically comes with the right to develop a homesite. Mining claims tend to be surrounded by public land, in many instances making them more desirable to develop, while at the same time making them more important to conserve. Complicating matters further for conservationists are a variety of well-meaning environmental laws that have the unintended consequence of scaring away would-be do-gooders because of fear of environmental liability.
Accomplishments at a Glance:
Looking Back at 2007 Activities:
The Howard Fork of the San Miguel River, running through the Ophir Valley south of Telluride, has been a TLR priority since 2001. The Howard Fork had been the site of a productive mining boom that lasted from the late 1880s up to the early 1950s, leaving in its wake dozens of abandoned mining sites, several of which continue to degrad water quality to this day. The final report of a three-year study, the “San Miguel River Restoration Assessment”, identified the Howard Fork as the top restoration priority in the San Miguel River Watershed. In May of 2001 TLR convened and facilitated the “Howard Fork Roundtable”, bringing together landowners, local officials, state and federal regulators, and citizens to prioritize cleanup opportunities and identify information needs. All of TLR’s work in the Ophir Valley since 2001 has been to focus on furthering the implementation of the goals and objectives identified by the Howard Fork Roundtable.
In 2002, TLR landed an EPA 319 grant to begin a series of Howard Fork water quality studies and hydrological investigations. Shortly thereafter, TLR entered into a Participating Agreement to consult on specific USFS-owned sites; hire sub-contractors to perform environmental investigation; provide public outreach; and coordinate USFS activities with neighboring private landowners, other federal agencies, state government, San Miguel County, and the Town of Ophir. Thanks to USEPA and USFS support, TLR and our hired sub-contractors completed the “Howard Fork Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) Source Interception Study”; obtained extensive water quality sampling and analysis; and provided environmental assessment and consulting in support of the Town of Ophir’s acquisition of the Ferric Oxide Placer Claim.
In 2007, TLR completed risk assessments of eight USFS sites; and provided environmental consulting and public outreach in support of pending $600,000 reclamation of Carbonero Tailings by USFS that is scheduled to be completed in 2009.
Two Red Mountain Mining Claims
Offered for Donation to Local Land Trust
RIDGWAY- The owners of two patented mining claims near Red Mountain Pass have offered to donate the land to the Trust for Land Restoration provided the local land trust can raise funds to cover short-term transaction and long-term stewardship costs. The claims are named the Chicken and the New Deal. They together total about 20 acres, and are located in Ouray County, on the north side of Red Mountain Pass, west of US 550, in Commodore Gulch.
“The names ‘Chicken’ and ‘New Deal’ hearken back to the Depression Era of the 1930’s, when these claims were originally staked,” said Pat Willits, TLR’s Executive Director. “I would think the names relate to Roosevelt’s New Deal program goal to put a ’chicken in every pot’ meaning the government was trying to help people survive the severe economic downturn.”
Now TLR is seeking to raise the necessary transaction and endowment costs to be able to accept the donation of the two properties. “Even though the claims are being offered to TLR as a donation, we will incur short-term costs and fees, plus become responsible for long-term obligations to monitor and take care of the property,” said Willits. “We estimate those costs to total $13,000, but thanks to the pledge of a donation of $5,000 to TLR from the Telluride Foundation, and an in-kind donation valued at $3,000 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, TLR is left with just $5,000 to raise. We are hoping people will consider contributing to our ‘New Projects Development Fund’ to help us complete this deal.”
“Please go to our website at www.restorationtrust.org and click on ‘New Project Alert’ for photos, maps and lots of interesting information about this project. We’ve even got a link to a PDF of the original 1946 patent deed. Plus a link to a secure on-line donation page,” said Willits.
CDOW Steps Up to Protect Sage Grouse
Habitat on Iron Springs Mesa
Once again, we are very happy to report that
landowners Chris and Deann Baker have placed a conservation easement
covering an additional 480 acres of their ranch on Iron Springs Mesa,
in San Miguel County. This is now the fourth CE now on the ranch,
bringing the total of protected Gunnison sage grouse habitat to 1240
acres. But this time there is a new twist. The Colorado Division of
Wildlife (CDOW) contributed to the “purchase-of-development
rights” deal, by paying the Baker’s cash equal to about
half the appraised value of the conservation easement. CDOW funding
came via its Colorado Species Conservation Partnership program, and
also gives CDOW research, monitoring and enforcement rights on all of
the 1240 acres now conserved.
The Trust for Land Restoration is pleased to be the catalyst for Gunnison sage grouse habitat conservation. A once prolific rangeland species whose numbers have dwindled to less than 3,000, biologists point to habitat fragmentation by human activity, including road building, fencing, housing development, lack of predator control, and livestock overgrazing as the culprits responsible for the birds decline. Easement-required restrictions on Baker Ranch limit the subject acreage to no residential development, limited road building and maintenance, fences that discourage raptor perches, and a livestock grazing management plan that keeps cattle off during spring breeding season, and pulls cattle by early fall to maintain winter feed for the grouse.
TLR is pleased to be one of a number of concerned partners working in southwest Colorado to protect Gunnison sage grouse. We especially would like to thank…
With the 2007 donations of a new conservation easement on Iron Springs Mesa in San Miguel County, TLR now holds 12 conservation easements that altogether total 3205 acres. Combined, these easements protect important wildlife habitat, historic structures and scenic vistas enjoyed by the public. They reduce 92 potential residential development rights to 6.
With 2007 additions, the tally of all TLR conservation easements as of December 31, 2007 is:
Doing the Heavy Lifting for TLR
BIG THANKS TO TLR’s BIG 2007 DONORS
$10,000 and up
Chris & DeAnn Baker
Geoff & Christy Hoyl
$1,000 and up
Zach and Val Miller
Paul Phillips & Susan Zimmerman
$100 and up
Robert M. Clark
Pat & Deb Willits
2007 In –Kind
American Geological Services
Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Dave Folkes @ EnviroGroup
Jane Ellen Hamilton
Zach Miller @ Davis Graham and Stubbs
Paul Phillips @ Holland and Hart
Bobbi Stewart @ WebDesign Farm
United States Forest Service
THANK YOU! Top of
The Trust for Land Restoration