The past several summers, the Crested Butte area and surrounding backcountry have seen record numbers of visitors. While it is heartwarming to see so many more people discovering the incredible beauty of our valley, it is also important to make sure that common values and respect for nature are passed on.
And there is no better way to learn appreciation for the natural world than experience, particularly at a young age.
Just over Schofield Pass, beyond the packed parking lots and crowded trails that lead into the Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness, sits a rustic basecamp. Over the past 45 years, an estimated 4,500 public school children have discovered a respect for nature at the basecamp. Students have historically backpacked through the wilderness in order to reach this property, where they then spend four days camping and taking part in teambuilding and transformative experiences such as climbing, rappelling, negotiating ropes courses and “trust walls,” and simply enjoying time around the campfire, together in nature. The Basecamp provides a truly unique space for middle-school students to unplug from the modern world and just listen to the nighttime forest, learn to backpack and camp, and drink in the solitude of our wild places.
The Basecamp experience was made possible thanks to three landowners who allowed their pristine, 47-acre mountain property to be used for outdoor education classes.
But, the outdoor education programming at the Basecamp was in danger of being shut down indefinitely. Thanks to your support, the Basecamp is protected
Capitalizing on a unique, time-sensitive opportunity, the Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT) in partnership with the Crested Butte Land Trust, protected this property permanently, ensuring:
- Outdoor educational access for public schools and underserved youth groups;
- Public hiking access along the beginning section of North Lost Trail, a Forest Service trail that crosses private land without protection of a trail easement; and
- Significant ecological and riparian values of a National Forest inholding that lies within the High Elk Corridor and Lost Trail Creek Potential Conservation Area.
Located at 9,000 feet and bordered on two sides by the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, this property is adjacent to the North Fork of Lost Trail Creek and its thriving, ecologically significant riparian area. Roughly one-third mile of the popular North Lost Trail (USFS trail no. 1967) traverses the property en route to the Wilderness area.
Protection of this property ensures that the North Lost Trail can be used by the public…forever.
The Aspen School District has offered to share its equipment with Gunnison County’s public schools interested in using the property, and to train staff and provide program information. This will provide a unique opportunity for students in Gunnison County to partake in outdoor education programs at the Basecamp.
The future of land conservation, and some would say the soul of our culture, depends of our ability to connect youth with the out-of-doors.
Governor Hickenlooper, while announcing the Great outdoors Colorado Inspire Initiative in June noted, “If we don’t provide our children early exposure to the wild outdoors… they will be far less likely to ever fully appreciate it and if they don’t appreciate it, will they protect it?”