Peanut Lake and our wetlands

Peanut Lake and our wetlands

Xavi Fane Peanut Lake Cropped
Just a few feet separate Peanut Lake from the encroaching Slate River. Photo: Xavier Fane

The Crested Butte Land Trust is working on an important project to protect Peanut Lake. Currently, the Slate River threatens to breach the lake and degrade the wetlands downstream.

A 700-foot stretch of the Slate River runs along the southeastern bank of Peanut Lake, just outside of Crested Butte. In some areas, just a few feet of beaver dam separate the river from the lake, and that separation is becoming more precarious.

Human interference has restricted the natural course of the Slate River on its eastern bank. As a result, the river has been moving, sometimes up to six feet a year, towards Peanut Lake. This section of river is referred to as the Peanut Lake Reach, and its movement is cause for concern.

The Land Trust has conducted several thorough assessments of the area, and crafted a plan to keep the river from breaching the lake, while restoring the wetlands in the area. We hope to move a berm to the East of the Slate, allowing the river to reclaim it’s natural floodplain. With your help, we will begin the time-sensitive work to protect the lake and wetlands this October.

If we don’t act now, and the river is allowed to breach the lake, it could be serious for folks downstream. Peanut Lake sits just below the Peanut Mine. The Land Trust successfully reclaimed the mine, but not before significant concentrations of heavy metals leached into Peanut Lake. If the river takes the lake, these metals could contaminate the water downstream.

The Slate River feeds into the East River, which provides drinking water for the City of Gunnison. Additionally, many working family ranches and farms in the Gunnison Valley rely on water from the East and Gunnison Rivers to maintain their operations.

The loss of Peanut Lake would also be a great loss to our community. Hundreds of waterfowl rely on the open waters for habitat, in addition to tens of thousands of recreationalists who view the lake as they hike or bike the Lower Loop trail each year.

To learn more or help us reach our fundraising goal, contact Danielle at or (970)349-1206