The largest privately-held, developed land parcel located inside the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park is now permanently protected federal wilderness thanks to National Park Trust’s (NPT) partnership with The Wilderness Land Trust and Rocky Mountain Conservancy. These three lead organizations worked with a number of local funders and supporters to purchase this critical property within the park, remove the existing two-story house from the property, and return the land to its natural state.
A generous gift from The Barrett Family Foundation to NPT of $150,000 was the final piece of funding that was needed to close the deal.
Images of the site before (left) and after removal of the house (right).
Since 2009, this land has been a high priority parcel that Rocky Mountain National Park sought to permanently protect. A highly coveted lot, the property and house were perched on a rocky overlook and could be seen from every vantage point within the Wild Basin area. With the removal of the house and the access road leading to the property, 33 acres of wilderness (the highest level of conservation protection) will be added to the park. The paved access road will be restricted to foot traffic until it is permanently removed, allowing the public to appreciate the view from the property’s overlook for the first time in nearly 100 years.
“We are pleased to be able to assist in returning this land to its natural state and reopen the area to the public, providing access to a beautiful overlook into the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park, said Phil Selleck, Park Projects Director at National Park Trust. “Our national parks belong to everyone and this once private vista can finally be enjoyed by all and protected for future generations.”
“Rocky Mountain National Park is so appreciative of our partners and staff who have worked hard to add this parcel to the park,” said Darla Sidles, Superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park. “It is an honor to forever ensure the protection and access of this beautiful Wild Basin area.”
“We are thrilled to see 33 acres of wilderness added to Rocky Mountain National Park,” said Brad Borst, President, The Wilderness Land Trust. “The Wild Basin area of the park provides many outstanding areas for hiking, fishing, and camping. Permanent protection of this property will secure the area from intrusive development on the St. Vrain River. Visitors can now enjoy this property in its natural state, and we sincerely thank all our partners for helping to get the job done.”
ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST
NPT’s mission is preserving parks today; creating park stewards for tomorrow. In the 35 years since NPT was established, the non-profit organization has completed 62 land acquisition, restoration, and mitigation projects in 30 states, 1 U.S. Territory and Washington, D.C. including 49 National Park Service projects. In 2009, NPT launched its nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs which currently supports more than 200 Title I schools across the country. Since 2011, NPT has organized Kids to Parks Day, an annual national celebration of America’s parks hosted on the third Saturday in May.
More details about NPT can be found at www.parktrust.org.
ABOUT THE WILDERNESS LAND TRUST
The Wilderness Land Trust is a small, highly specialized nonprofit organization established to buy and protect wilderness land. Since founded in 1992, the Trust has preserved 432 parcels comprising more than 47,000 acres of wilderness inholdings in 93 designated and proposed wilderness areas across 9 states. The Wilderness Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization, has offices in California and Colorado.
For more information visit our website www.wildernesslandtrust.org.
(Pictured above: The property at Rocky Mountain National Park before (left) and after (right) the cabin was removed. Photo courtesy of David Kirk, The Wilderness Land Trust.)
Early this year we announced that National Park Trust (NPT) joined forces with The Wilderness Land Trust and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to help make Rocky Mountain National Park a little more wild. As a result of this partnership, 12.5-acres located in the Wild Basin area were added to the park. The final piece of funding needed to purchase the private enclave was secured by NPT thanks to a $150,000 gift from The Barrett Family Foundation.
Recently, the house on the property was removed – completing the first stage on the path to returning this area to pristine wilderness!
Now, this popular hiking destination – with breathtaking views of wilderness and rushing mountain streams, numerous cascades, and waterfalls – will be protected in perpetuity. Having the “wilderness” designation means that by law, no mechanical devices (not even a bicycle), or power lines and cell towers can be used on the land. There are no roads, only trails for hiking or horseback riding. Without noise pollution, you can sit quietly with your eyes closed and hear what it was like to be in this park 200 years ago!
To learn more about our park projects and how you can get involved, visit our website or contact Phil Selleck, park projects director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 279-7275 ext. 14.
For Immediate Release
December 22, 2016
Reid Haughey, 970-963-1725 (The Wilderness Land Trust)
Charles Money, 970-586-0108, ext. 18 (Rocky Mountain Conservancy)
Grace Lee, 301-279-7275, ext. 14 (National Park Trust)
Partners Give a Gift of Wilderness to Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, Colorado: It could have been the worst-case scenario for Rocky Mountain National Park: a “Land for Sale” sign going up in one of the most popular areas of the Park. But that was exactly the situation the Park would have been confronted with if not for a quick response from Rocky Mountain Conservancy, The Wilderness Land Trust, National Park Trust, and the support of local funders. A 12.5-acre property was about to be listed for sale for only the second time in the last seventy years. With a 2,000 square foot house perched on a rocky overlook and easy motorized access, the demand for this private property within Wild Basin would have been great.
For the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, based in Estes Park, saving this property had been a high priority for a number of years, and they initially found a generous conservation buyer to purchase and hold the property in 2009 when it originally came up for sale. That buyer, however, wanted to sell the property this year to ensure that it would go to the Park. “We knew right away that we had to step in quickly with what land protection reserves we had,” Charles Money, Executive Director of the Conservancy said. “The last time it was on the market, there was immediate interest from many possible buyers.”
The property is the largest privately-held, developed parcel located in the Wild Basin area of the Park. The property is only about a mile from the Wild Basin Entrance Station located just north of Allenspark, Colorado. Longs Peak and Mount Meeker tower over the property and the parcel offers spectacular views of the Continental Divide to the west. Camper Creek cascades through the property and numerous springs wind around large boulders, providing water sources for wildlife. The two-story structure is visible from many points in Wild Basin, including a picnic area on the North St. Vrain River, which flows through a corner of the property below the house.
The parcel and land along the access drive are within the wilderness boundary, but not currently managed as wilderness because it’s privately owned. In order for the area to be managed as designated wilderness (the highest level of conservation protection for federal lands), the partners must remove the house and access drive. The planned deconstruction process would recycle as much of the building materials as possible.
The addition of the parcel to the Park and removal of the house and access drive will enable the Park to administratively add 33 acres to designated wilderness. “This helps fulfill the purpose of the Wild Basin area – it provides a rare, accessible wilderness experience to Park visitors,” points out Reid Haughey, President of The Wilderness Land Trust. “When the Rocky Mountain Conservancy called asking for help, we jumped at the opportunity to preserve the quiet recreation and wildlife habitat of Wild Basin–which is otherwise managed as designated wilderness surrounding a trailhead access road. Ironically, every funder and board member I showed the property to immediately wanted the site for themselves but knew it was more valuable as an asset for all. That shows how spectacular this location is.”
Raising the necessary funds for the purchase and deconstruction was very challenging. That is where the National Park Trust and the largest local funder joined the partnership to complete the deal, “Our funding partner, The Barrett Family Foundation has a special connection to Rocky Mountain National Park and they were delighted to help with this important project during the National Park Service Centennial. The opportunity to purchase and protect threatened private property made it a perfect fit for the foundation,” said Grace Lee, Executive Director of the National Park Trust.
Charles Money was also thankful, “It took all of our organizations to pull this off, but we are glad this property can now finally be transferred to Rocky Mountain National Park where it belongs.”
Darla Sidles, Superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park said, “We are extremely grateful to the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, The Wilderness Land Trust and National Park Trust in acquiring this private piece of land inside the park. This is a gift that will live on forever as protected wilderness.”
About the Wilderness Land Trust
The Wilderness Land Trust is a small, highly specialized nonprofit organization established to buy and protect wilderness land. Since it was founded in 1992, the Trust has preserved 439 parcels comprising more than 48,289 acres of wilderness inholdings in 100 designated and proposed wilderness areas across 9 states. The Wilderness Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization, has offices in California and Colorado. For more information visit our website www.wildernesslandtrust.org.
About the Rocky Mountain Conservancy
The Rocky Mountain Conservancy promotes stewardship of Rocky Mountain National Park and similar lands through education and philanthropy. In the past 30 years, the Conservancy has raised more than $35 million to enhance and protect the park’s trails, lands, youth education, historic structures, and more. Learn how to get involved at www.RMConservancy.org.
About the National Park Trust
National Park Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. Since 1983, NPT has completed more than 100 land projects benefiting 40 national parks and other public lands in 33 states and Washington, D.C. Since 2009 our Buddy Bison School Program and national Kids to Parks Day have engaged 2,000,000 students across the country with our nation’s parks, public lands and waters (ParkTrust.org).
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