North Pole Basin Conservation

In 2013, the Crested Butte Land Trust achieved a long-standing conservation goal of preserving the North Pole Basin with the help of the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab (RMBL) and Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Today, the North Pole Basin property is owned by RMBL with a conservation easement held by the Land Trust. Located next to the Schofield Townsite, North Pole Basin is distinctive for its importance to larger conservation efforts and scientific research. For conservationists, this parcel complements more than 40 years of efforts to protect land and water in the Schofield area, and it provides an irreplaceable bridge of protection between two wilderness areas.

Property and Project History

The North Pole Basin is also located directly north of The Nature Conservancy’s Mexican Cut Preserve, a scientifically productive 300-acre parcel managed by RMBL. The Basin provides significant scientific opportunities and serves as a complement to research done at Mexican Cut. Research on acid rain at the Mexican Cut was responsible, in part, for the inclusion of provisions to protect air in the western US during the revision of the Clean Air Act in the early 1990s.

Protecting North Pole Basin was a $2 million project completed thanks to the diligent efforts and collaboration of public and private funding partners. The lead funder, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), was created by Colorado voters in 1992 to use Colorado Lottery revenues to preserve, protect, enhance, and help manage the state’s wildlife, parks, rivers, trails, and open spaces. Local funders included the Gunnison Valley Land Preservation Board and 1% for Open Space, both of which made significant contributions to the project. In addition to generous private donations, the project was also funded by the Gates Family Foundation.

Four years later, an additional 7.75 acres of prime habitat were added to conservation efforts in the North Pole Basin area through the purchase of the Discovery Lode mining claim. This parcel is nestled in an area known as the High Elk Corridor which the Land Trust has focused on preserving since 1997 to connect pristine habitats and ensure that elk herds can safely migrate year after year.

Opportunities like these don’t come along every day. Thanks to the ongoing support of donors, the Crested Butte Land Trust has been able to conserve important areas throughout the Gunnison Valley for over 30 years. It’s thanks to investors like you that the elk continue their seasonal migrations and future generations will enjoy the views and hikes we all cherish today. You are protecting the present for the future.