“There can be no
purpose more inspiring than to begin the age of restoration,
reweaving the wondrous diversity of life that still surrounds
Looking Back at 2006:
Yankee Girl Mine Saved by Local Hero!
Perhaps the most iconic mining structure in the Red Mountain Mining District of the San Juan Mountains, the Yankee Girl Mine is Governor Ritter's favorite Colorado historical landmark. It is also one of the most threatened, by the dual risks of real estate speculation as well as the dire need for repair and stabilization. Montrose County entrepeneur and businessman Mark Young has saved the day by purchasing Yankee Girl, concluding a conservation easement with TLR, and initiating the much needed restoration with the help of an award of State Historical Funds.
Protected Sage Grouse Habitat on Iron
Once again, we are very happy to report that
landowners Chris and DeAnn Baker have donated a conservation easement
covering additional portions of their ranch on Iron Springs Mesa, in
San Miguel County. This 2006 addition is now the third easement
the Bakers have donated on their property, bringing total, and
contiguous, protected acreage on the ranch to 760. Baker Ranch
is in the heart of critical wildlife habitat for the Gunnison sage
grouse. A once prolific rangeland species whose numbers have dwindled
to less than 3,000, today biologists point to habitat fragmentation
by 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.
With 2006 additions, the tally of all TLR conservation easements as of December 31, 2006 is:
TLR’s 2005 Annual Report includes the story of how TLR conceived of an innovative approach to analyze mining impacts to Ouray County’s Canyon Creek watershed, an area of visually stunning high country basins between the City of Ouray and the Town of Telluride.
In 2006, the Canyon Creek Brownfields Assessment focused on two blocks of claims: the Upper Thistledown Mine (owned by Ouray County), and Camp Bird 14-Level (owned by Federal Resources Inc. of Salt Lake City). Our deepest thanks and appreciation go to both owners for their willing consent and cooperation to perform Phase II Environmental Assessment of their private properties. The Canyon Creek Brownfields Assessment will conclude by June 30, 2007, and Results and Final Report will then be available for public viewing at the County Commissioners Offices at the Ouray County Courthouse, in Ouray.
Summit County Reclaims Shoe Basin
It’s always great when “dirt gets moved”. This is a complex business, made even more complicated by tricky questions of environmental liability. So it’s always great to report an on-the-ground success. In 2006 Summit County completed the reclamation of the Shoe Basin Mine, east of Keystone Resort in the Peru Creek Basin. Shoe Basin was identified as a priority acquisition and reclamation project in the 2004 Peru Creek Basin Brownfields Assessment, of which TLR was pleased to be a contributor. In fact, TLR wrote the Brownfields Clean-up Proposal to the US EPA that landed $190,000 for the Shoe Basin project. Summit County Open Space and Trails Department came up with the $210,000 balance to complete the project, and the got it done. Good job, Summit County!
Down Valley Park Restoration
Here’s another project where dirt got moved, and TLR is pleased to have been an accessory to the good deed. Linda Luther, Director of Parks and Open Space for San Miguel County, contacted TLR in early 2002 to ask for help. After years of negotiation, the County had purchased a 20-acre property along the banks of the San Miguel River, twelve miles downstream of Telluride. The property, once a gravel pit, was to be turned into a new county park with mixed use: ball fields on one end, natural area pond, wetlands and riverside riparian area on the other. The County had applied for $150,000 from the State of Colorado Resource Damage Funds to help restore the site. Now the State was asking for a third party to take a conservation easement to assure that the natural area would, indeed, be restored as planned, and remain as such… forever.
Then came the call to TLR. Could we structure and hold a conservation easement that would satisfy the State and San Miguel County? The answer was yes, and in 2003 the heavy equipment rolled, with great results. But restoration projects don’t end when the tractors leave. Each site is different, but usually it takes years of stewardship, including weeding and watering, to make sure the new vegetation is established and healthy. At Down Valley Park, San Miguel County had the added task of monitoring and managing the recreational use of the restoration area. It hasn’t been easy for San Miguel County staff, but this year they reached the point where TLR was pleased to be able to report to the County Commissioners and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that the restoration is complete and is a success.
Trust for Land Restoration
American Geological Services
The Trust for Land Restoration