We can’t help but celebrate! The Independence Pass Foundation moved into new territory in 2017 when it partnered with the Wilderness Land Trust to purchase and permanently protect 17 acres of prime wilderness above the ghost town of Independence, effectively fulfilling our mission to protect the ecological, historical, and aesthetic integrity of Independence Pass.
In 2016, two former mining claims, the Grandview and Spotted Tail lodes, which sit within the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, were listed for sale. They carried with them the right to build a small home AND access the properties via automobile along the popular Green Mountain trail, a former wagon road that was determined to provide legal access to the properties. Needless to say, the idea of development and cars in in this wild landscape was hugely concerning to IPF.
In a perfect example of non-profit collaboration at its best, the Wilderness Land Trust negotiated a deal with the seller and IPF helped secure funding for the purchase. The next step, now in process, is for the Wilderness Land Trust to transfer the properties to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, thus protecting them from development and road use for all time.
On September 30 of this year, IPF and WLT held a joint celebration at the properties with their boards and staff. Paul Andersen gave a thoroughly engaging talk on the Pass, including stories of the hearty souls who founded the town of Independence in the 1880s and the continuing importance of wilderness in our lives.
Participants also enjoyed seeing the rare Colorado plant, Altai cottongrass, which grows adjacent to the newly-protected properties. Thanks to all involved in this huge win for wilderness and Independence Pass!