The Idarado Houses Project

Twenty Three Years and Counting!

Our Mission: To preserve and protect significant scenic landscapes and historic sites in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado.

Trust for Land Restoration is a non-profit consulting group and land trust recognized as the leader in facilitating mining companies, regulators and people in the environmental community to cooperate to achieve restoration and conservation of environmentally significant sites.

Trust for Land Restoration is a non-profit consulting group and land trust recognized as the leader in facilitating mining companies, regulators and people in the environmental community to cooperate to achieve restoration and conservation of environmentally significant sites.

Children Playing
There can be no purpose more inspiring than to begin the age of restoration, reweaving the wondrous diversity of life that still surrounds us. E.O. Wilson

The GoalStatewide network. Local impact.

The Trust for Land Restoration’s mission is to heal the last worst places by restoring, conserving and protecting environmentally significant lands degraded by mining or other human activities.

  • We are a statewide partner to citizen groups, local governments, and state and federal agencies seeking to cleanup and conserve abandoned mine sites in their communities.

  • We are a local land trust, focusing on easement and fee acquisition projects in Ouray, San Miguel, and San Juan Counties that other land trusts may lack the expertise or time to undertake.


An Open Letter from TLR Executive Director Patrick Willits

“The Trust for Land Restoration continues to be the mightiest little land conservation organization in Southwest Colorado, achieving great things with the tiniest of operating budgets.”  These words, spoken of TLR in the past, ring true today as we celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2020!

Four years ago, TLR downsized from a statewide organization with full-time staff to its configuration today:  two part-time employees, seven incredibly dedicated Directors, and a cadre of advisors and friends, many of whom donate their time free of charge, to tackle unique projects in the San Juan Mountains.  These projects require the specialized knowledge, time and perseverance that only TLR can give.

Since its inception in 1999, TLR and its partners have been awarded more than $2M in grants and contracts to preserve (and often times clean up) historic mine sites, principally in our San Juan Mountains.  TLR’s partners, and donors like you, have brought an additional $4.2M to these important projects.  Over the last twenty years TLR has saved over 4,000 acres of wildlife habitat via conservation easement; we’ve purchased and then donated another 200 acres of mining claims to local, state and federal agencies; we have led the community effort in the Ophir Valley to clean up dozens of tailings and waste rock piles, resulting in the return of aquatic life to the Howard Fork of the San Miguel River; and we have joined forces with local governments, not only here in Ouray and San Juan Counties, but also in Summit County, Lake City, Telluride and Rico, to help clean up and preserve hundreds of abandoned mines and mill sites.

In 2015, TLR purchased and conveyed fourteen mining claims to the United States Forest Service.  In 2016, we completed donation of the mining claims that comprise the historic Corkscrew Turntable to Ouray County.  In 2018, TLR negotiated and acquired a mining claim near the top of Red Mountain Pass that included an important SNOTEL snow, rain, and climate data gathering site on behalf of the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Southwest Water Conservation District. 

Current projects include negotiations now underway to acquire and preserve three of the Idarado Houses on Red Mountain Pass and the purchase of one hundred acres of mining claims on Brown Mountain to be donated as open space to Ouray County.  In 2020, we will continue work on a ranch land preservation project near the town of Ridgway.

TLR has received a commitment of $92,000 from the Idarado Natural Resource Damage Fund to purchase the 100 acres of mining claims that comprise the Silver Mountain Mine, on Brown Mountain, above Ironton Park. That’s about one third of the total money needed to complete the deal. Our task now is to complete negotiations with the landowner, obtain an appraisal and an environmental assessment, and raise the remaining funds. It’s a big task, but we are excited by the opportunity. 

This is where you come in!  We could not do what we do without the support of people who care about the San Juan Mountains and who understand both the challenges and the opportunities to keep them special.  If you are reading this, we know you are one of those people.  As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, please accept our sincere thanks for your part in helping us keep the San Juan Mountains special for many years to come!

The DetailsThese practices outline the minimum steps necessary for TLR to evaluate and manage risk associated with the acquisition, restoration and conservation of contaminated sites.

  • Step 1: Project Selection Criteria

    The Trust for Land Restoration will apply a defined process, including written criteria, for selecting land and conservation easement acquisitions that will result in environmental and public benefit.

  • Step 2: Extreme Due Diligence

    TLR will obtain a professional, competent and thorough Environmental Assessment for each transaction, taking appropriate steps to identify the existence of hazardous or toxic materials affecting the property and maintain permanent records documenting those steps.

  • Step 3: Federal and State Regulatory Review and Approval

    TLR will obtain professional legal representation and engage appropriate Federal and State regulatory review of each proposed transaction.

  • Step 4: Full Disclosure

    TLR will fully disclose to all pertinent parties, including donors, sellers and government regulators, any and all information related to a particular transaction.

  • Step 5: Risk to Benefit Analysis

    TLR will analyze existing or potential problems, prior to completing an acquisition, and will either take corrective action or make a determination that the conservation values can nevertheless be restored and protected and that the benefits outweigh the risks.

  • Step 6: Full Board Consensus

    The Trust for Land Restoration will only complete a transaction after review and with full consensus of its Board of Trustees and Advisors.

Read Full Policy

The TeamMeet our board of directors.



TLR has completed a marketing plan and funding analysis that identifies a variety of sources and resources sufficient to sustain operating and project specific financial needs


TLR has developed an organizational structure that allows for management of legal and liability issues sufficient to undertake needed projects.


TLR works with local, state, and federal governments to evaluate applicable laws, regulations and policies particular to each proposed acquisition.

Mission, Vision, Values

The InfoOur stats at a glance.