In the summer of 1919, the Forest Service dispatched its first landscape architect to Trappers Lake with instructions to survey 100 planned summer home sites and a road around the lake. The 27 year old surveyor, Arthur H. Carhart, completed his plan and returned to Denver. But he closed his report with a strongly-worded recommendation that the area remain roadless and undeveloped. "There are a number of places with scenic values of such great worth that they are rightfully the property of all people. They should be preserved for all time for the people of the Nation and the world. Trappers Lake is unquestionably a candidate for that classification."
In an unprecedented move, the Forest Service set the plans aside for further study and the proposed road was never built. Mr. Carhart went on to work with conservationist Aldo Leopold. The memorandum detailing their shared approach to preservation became the foundation and heart of the Wilderness concept.
In 1964, the Wilderness Act was signed into law. It set aside nine million acres of National Forest lands for the use and enjoyment of future generations. Since then, the system has grown to encompass lands in National Parks, Forests and Wildlife Refuges, as well as properties managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Flat Tops Wilderness, home to Trappers Lake, was designated in 1975.