TLR 2022 Updates: Reclamation & Historical Preservation

Marble Wetlands Acquisition and Smelter-site Reclamation

Marble Updates

When nobody else could figure out how to clean-up a 100-year old mining-smelter site threatening an otherwise pristine 54-acre wetlands complex bordering the Crystal River, Yule Creek, and the Town of Marble, the Trust for Land Restoration stepped in to get the job done, accepting ownership of the property to boot, thanks to the incredible generosity of an anonymous donor.

Working with partners Trout Unlimited and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the smelter site has just now been remediated, protected by a wooden-rail cross-buck fence, allowing us to open what had been private property to the public for hiking and beaver and bird-watching in the summer, and for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.  Just watch out for the moose.

Re-named the Marble Wetlands Preserve, TLR’s plan is to study and observe the property for the next 12 to 18 months before donating it to the Town of Marble with a long-term management plan in place, prepared in consultation with the Town, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the Aspen Valley Land Trust.

Please come check this most special place out.  Your donation to TLR made saving it possible!

Idarado Houses Preservation Project Update


It may take a trained eye to discern the work completed this fall at the Idarado Houses by Brian Briggs and his dedicated crew of former-Ouray Silver Mines employees to further stabilize, weatherize and preserve them, but up close their effort and care becomes more obvious.  All four Houses now have new concrete pads and support posts beefing up their foundations.  All four now have corrugated-metal skirting protecting their foundations and undersides from blown-in snow and gnawing and nesting critters.  And all four Houses have had their tin roof coverings meticulously pulled, their underlaying roof sheathing carefully inspected, repaired and/or replaced as necessary, new ice and water shield laid down, and then the original roof tin re-installed, this time screwed down. Brian’s crew then added steel stairways and landings and re-graded the slope to direct rain and snow-melt away from the Houses to protect them from the harsh weather elements at the 11,000-foot elevation where they sit, hopefully for another forty years or more.

All this takes money.  Since 2020 individuals have donated more than $45,000 to TLR’s Idarado Houses effort, matched by $30,000 from the Dave and Mary Wood Fund of the Western Colorado Community Foundation, and a $50,000 grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund.

In addition, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment provided $41,000 this year to remove lead-based paint and asbestos from the insides of the Houses, making them ready for 2023 interior work.

Planning and fundraising for 2023 work is just now beginning. And we are still shy about $8,000 to match this years’ State Historical Fund Grant, but thanks to the continued generosity of our supporters we hope to raise that amount by this years’ end. Stay tuned!

TLR Installs Ironton Townsite and Idarado Houses Interpretive Signs


Under TLR’s direction, this past summer Don Paulson and Lisa Hickman researched and designed wonderful “Ouray County Historical Landmark” interpretive signs for the Ironton Townsite and Idarado Houses historical sites.  Jeff Skaloda built the steel structures, and he and Chris Halland installed them.  The Ouray BOCC generously reimbursed us for the cost of the Ironton sign.  TLR members via their donations paid for the one at the Idarado Houses.  We are super pleased at how well they came out and have enjoyed watching visitors read and experience them.  They add a lot to the “feng shui” of these historical site gems.  Stop by next time you are near and see if you don’t agree.


Please considering joining us in our efforts and making a donation today! Your gift will help preserve and protect the significant scenic sites and historic landscapes in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado.