Restoring the Top Cut

Bob Lewis, founder of the Independence Pass Foundation tirelessly promoted and then guided the initial efforts to restore the massive scars marring the "Top Cut" of Independence Pass. This one- and one-half mile stretch of Highway 82 lying just below the summit on the westernside "Top Cut" included the most seriously eroded slopesin the entire corridor. Erosion, which was set in motion when the 1882 stagecoach road was transformed into Highway 82 over Independence Pass, had steadily devastated several ecosystems from the alpine tundra down into the meadows below, threatening the pristine Roaring Fork River.

The Top Cut is divided into a series of smaller road "cuts" that were made to widen the roadway for automobiles. Construction of native rock retaining walls at the Twin Gullies, Big Cut and Middle Cut, and revegetation of the barren eroded slopes were daunting undertakings for this small organization. Begun in 1996, the wall building at the Top Cut continued over 13 years, with the final rocks placed in the Middle Cut Wall in 2008. Revegetation is ongoing, and is beginning to show dramatic results.


In the fall of 2008, IPF completed the final section of retaining wall to stabilize the Middle Cut.