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Contact: Brian Lorch, Summit County Open Space and Trails Director
SUMMIT COUNTY – Last week the White River National Forest acquired 22 parcels along the Continental Divide between Grays Peak and Georgia Pass from Summit County Government to preserve the iconic ridgeline and uninterrupted public access on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST). Summit County specifically acquired the approximately 120 acres of mining claims beginning in 2009, with the specific goal of transferring the claims to the U.S. Forest Service to support the trail.
“This long-term partnership effort meets multiple goals of the Summit County Open Space and Trails program and the US Forest Service by preserving the iconic ridgeline of the Continental Divide, while providing uninterrupted public lands for the National Scenic Trail,” said Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence.
The CDNST traverses Summit County from Georgia Pass above Breckenridge to Grays and Torreys Peaks above Montezuma. Established via the 1987 National Parks and Recreation Act, the CDNST runs approximately 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada, with 770 of those miles through Colorado.
“The transfer of these properties to the Forest Service ensures permanent legal access to the CDNST and the preservation of high alpine tundra habitat for mountain goats, big horn sheep, pika, marmots, and rare alpine vegetation,” said Brian Lorch, Summit County Open Space and Trails Director. The 2009 CDNST Amended Comprehensive Plan states that the “nature and purpose of the CDNST are to provide for high-quality scenic, primitive hiking and horseback riding opportunities and to conserve natural, historic, and cultural resources along the CDNST corridor.”
We appreciate Summit County’s key role in reaching our shared goal of making these small inholdings part of the White River National Forest,” said White River National Forest Supervisor Lisa Stoeffler. “The acquisition of these parcels protects them from future development and allows for the necessary rights-of-way for continued construction and maintenance the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.” The acquisition was funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund Recreation Access Program.