Wilderness Land Trust transfers Northern Lode inholding to the U.S. Forest Service

Release Date: 

Forest Service News Release


Media Contact: Lisa Mellick 
(719) 221-5580 

Wilderness Land Trust transfers Northern Lode inholding to the U.S. Forest Service

LEADVILLE, Colo., April 9, 2024 –The Leadville Ranger District of the Pike-San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands in partnership with the Wilderness Land Trust, announce the acquisition of the 10.2 acre Northern Lode inholding located in Lake County near Leadville, Colorado. The entire property is within the boundary of the Holy Cross Wilderness. Acquisition of the inholding is under the authority of the Organic Act of August 3, 1956. Under the Wilderness Act of September 2, 1964, this parcel will be automatically designated as wilderness and will be precluded from development.

Wilderness areas provide a natural environment for plant and animal species, protect watersheds that provide clean drinking water to surrounding communities, filter and clean the air, sequester carbon and offer opportunities for solitude and recreation in a place mostly undisturbed by modern human development. The acquired parcel is only accessible by foot or horse travel and does not have any roads or trails. It has scenic views of the West Tennessee Creek drainage and the Continental Divide. Part of it straddles the ridgeline that runs between Galena Mountain and Homestake Peak, about a half mile from the West Tennessee Creek Lakes Trail #1499 and 3.25 miles from National Forest System Road 131. Historically, this parcel was utilized for mining and mineral exploration consisting of prospecting pits and horizontal passages for the purposes of access or drainage.

“The Wilderness Land Trust worked with the landowner for over a year before we were able to acquire the property in February 2022. This property was important for us to pick up firstly because it was a true wilderness inholding,” said Kelly Conde, lands specialist with Wilderness Land Trust. “It is located on a very steep slope, just below 13,000-foot Homestake Peak. Any mineral development would have had a big impact on the landscape. Secondly, this was the second to last private inholding on the Pike-San Isabel side of the Holy Cross Wilderness. As an organization that is dedicated to filling in the holes in our wilderness areas, it was exciting to be able to pick up and transfer the inholding to the U.S. Forest Service.”

“This is a great acquisition because wilderness inholdings can change the character and solitude of an area if developed,” said Leadville District Ranger Patrick Mercer. “Just by consolidating the land ownership, current and future preservation of the Holy Cross Wilderness takes a big step forward.  I’m really pleased that the team was able to get this across the finish line.”

The acquisition of the parcel falls within one of the categories that may be excluded from documentation in an Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Analysis. A project or case file and decision memo are not required under 36 CFR 220.6(d)(6). Through the process of scoping and interdisciplinary review, no extraordinary circumstances significantly affecting the environment were found to exist.

View of mountain valley

View of the West Tennessee Creek from the Northern Lode inholding. Credit USDA Forest Service.


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