Annual Report 2007

Annual Report 2007

“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


Introduction to TLR

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:

  1. as a local land trust, focusing on easement and fee acquisition projects in Ouray, San Miguel, and San Juan Counties that other land trusts lack the expertise or time to undertake;
  2. as a statewide partner to citizen groups, local governments, and state and federal agencies seeking to cleanup and conserve abandoned mine sites in their communities.

TLR Leveraged Over $3.5M for Projects Since 2000

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 NationalScenic 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.


2000-2008 TLR Accomplishments at a Glance:

$ 3.5m leveraged to conserve 3670 acres, 
completed 300+ site assessments,
cleaned up 3 sites

  • Twelve Conservation Easements totaling 3205 Acres;
    • retiring 92 potential home sites;
    • landing $800k CDOW cash to landowners;
    • generating $90k in fees & $130k in endowment contributions to TLR.
  • Helped bring 12 parcels totaling 485 acres into Public Ownership.
  • Landed 7 grants & services contracts for TLR & partners totaling $1m
  • Received $95k+ in private donations.
  • Partnered to leverage $160k Summit County cash with $195k EPA grant to cleanup Shoe Basin Mine (Summit County).
  • Secured USFS commitment of $600k for Carbonero Tailings Cleanup (Ophir Valley).
  • Helped secure $200k GOCO funds & $250k Idarado Natural Resource Damage Funds to TLR partner projects.

TLR Tackles Abandoned-Mine Land Impacts in the Ophir Valley




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

Telluride Foundation Pledges $5,000 Trust for Land Restoration Seeks Additional $5,000 to Complete 


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 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

Protected Habitat on Iron Springs Mesa Grows to 1240 Acres! 


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…

  • The San Miguel Basin Gunnison Sage-Grouse Working Group
  • San Miguel County Open Space and Trails Department
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Colorado Division of Wildlife



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:

Location Acreage
Cimarron Ridge 2001 Cimarron Mtns. Ouray County 1,000
Garard 2002 Ironton Park Ouray County 150
Down Valley Park 2003 Placerville San Miguel County 5
Fall Creek 2003 Wilson Mesa San Miguel County 470
Baker Ranch I 2003 Iron Spgs Mesa San Miguel County 160
Mystic Valley I 2004 Hastings Mesa San Miguel County 110
Mystic Valley II 2004 Hastings Mesa San Miguel County 110
Mystic Valley III 2004 Hastings Mesa San Miguel County 110
Baker Ranch II 2005 Iron Spgs Mesa San Miguel County 120
Yankee Girl Mine 2006 Red Mtn Mining District Ouray County 10
Baker Ranch III 2006 Iron Spgs Mesa San Miguel County 480
Baker Ranch IV 2007 Iron Spgs Mesa San Miguel County 480


The Trust for Land Restoration
2007 Income and Expense Statement
Ordinary Income/Expense
Conservation Easement Fees 39,004.00
Contract Services Fees 10,000.00
Endowment Fund Donations 28,000.00
Unrestricted Donations 29,600.00
Total Income 106,604.00
Bank Service Charges 103.48
Conferences & Training 80.00
Corporate Expense 135.00
Depreciation Expense 208.75
Dues and Subscriptions 590.00
Insurance 1,037.00
Licenses and Permits 20.00
Office Supplies 417.20
Payroll Expenses 39,812.75
Postage and Delivery 93.26
Printing and Reproduction 91.41
Professional Fees 24,212.60
Rent 2,750.00
Supplies 39.43
Telephones & Internet 2,206.75
Travel 1,162.51
Total Expense 72,960.14
Net Ordinary Income 33,643.86
Other Income/Expense
Other Income
Endowment Interest 3,829.10
Total Other Income 3,829.10
Net Other Income 3,829.10
Net Income 37,472.96
Dec 31, 07
Current Assets as of Dec 31, 2007
Operating Account 29,477.93
Total Checking/Savings 29,477.93
Other Current Assets
TLR Endowment 137,722.07
Total Other Current Assets 137,722.07
Total Current Assets 167,200.00
Fixed Assets
Accumulated Depreciation -1,779.30
Furniture & Fixtures 455.46
Office Equipment 1,982.04
Total Fixed Assets 658.20
TOTAL ASSETS 167,858.20

Doing the Heavy Lifting for TLR


$10,000 and up

Chris & DeAnn Baker

Geoff & Christy Hoyl

$1,000 and up

Zach and Val Miller

Paul Phillips & Susan Zimmerman

David Scott

$100 and up

Brownell Bailey

Robert M. Clark

Jeff Kodish

April Montgomery

Pat & Deb Willits

2007 In –Kind

American Geological Services

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

Dave Folkes @ EnviroGroup

Jane Ellen Hamilton

Lofton Henderson

Zach Miller @ Davis Graham and Stubbs

Paul Phillips @ Holland and Hart

Bobbi Stewart @ WebDesign Farm

2007 Contracts

Ouray County


United States Forest Service