We are an all-volunteer organization committed to the health and preservation of three Wilderness Areas, and to spreading wilderness ethics to all who visit. Won't you join us?
The NATIONAL WILDERNESS STEWARDSHIP ALLIANCE announced that FENW is one of 23 recipients of National Forest System Trail Stewardship Grants, selected from 90 applications. Our portion of the $230,000 distributed will be used for work this September at Missouri Lakes in Holy Cross Wilderness, especially for a recreation site monitoring program. Fifteen volunteers have signed on so far.
JUNE 17: FENW's first 2017 trail project - Lily Pad Lake and Meadow Creek trails. Teams from the west side and east side of the range converged to deal with extensive blowdown in the five-year-wake of the beetle epidemic. More pictures HERE.
June third was Volunteer Wilderness Ranger training day at the Minturn USFS station. Taught by Mike Mayrer's experienced team, the new rangers are ready to hit the trail. They'll meet, teach, and assist visitors to Eagles Nest, Holy Cross and Ptarmigan Wilderness Areas. Last summer, FENW VWRs met more than 12,000 hikers, horseback riders, and backpackers.
"The American Beaver: An Icon of the West" is the subject of the June Newsletter, authored by District Wildlife Manager Elissa Slezak
FENW celebrated Colorado Public Lands Day in Edwards on May 20. Tim Drescher (left) staffs our booth. Dean of Colorado photography John Fielder (right) gave a stirring presentation.
USFS Wilderness Manager MIKE BEACH is profiled in the May newsletter. Mike is in charge of the west side of Eagles Nest (the east side is covered by Cindy Ebbert), as well as Holy Cross and Flat Tops Wilderness Areas. He writes about his childhood and journey from engineering to outdoor recreation management, and subsequent work with the Forest Service, leading to his position today as Wilderness Trails Manager.
Kay Hopkins, USFS Outdoor Recreation Planner, co-authored the just-released draft management plan for Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness. In our March Newsletter, Kay explains how, after exhausting available tools, still the campsite trammeling continues, leading them to propose mandatory permits. It's an issue coming soon to a Wilderness near you, as we'll explain next month... Check out the map below.
Wilderness recovery - Our neighbor, Maroon Bells/Snowmass WILDERNESS (MBSW) is getting hammered from overuse and misuse, and the Forest Service is proposing a PLAN to limit the damage. The main feature is REQUIRED PERMITS FOR OVERNIGHT VISITORS.Rollover to enlargeThe appalling cancer of spreading campsites - about half of them illegal - can be seen on the map - rollover to enlarge.Years in the making, the USFS plan carefully and comprehensively documents the damage. It is evident to all who backpack there - limited parking, illegal and crowded campsites, illegal campfire rings, trash of all types, unburied piles of human waste and toilet paper, braided social trails... not the stuff of the 1964 Wilderness Act.BILL REED's "Cry From The Wilderness" kicks off a trilogy of monthly essays about overuse in the wilds, and what the Forest Service should, can, will do about it. Bill has spent countless hours maintaining trails and campsites in Eagles Nest Wilderness, and he is not sanguine about the future, unless changes are made. See the February Newsletter for Bill's essay.
DAVID LIEN provides a crisp update of the unsettled and unsettling political landscape surrounding the efforts to sell our Public Lands to individual states, a short hop on the way to private ownership. See the January Newsletter
CINDY EBBERT knows Eagles Nest Wilderness like no one else. As a former Wilderness Ranger, now Wilderness Manager, she directs her team of Rangers and Interns and provides invaluable guidance to FENW. Read about her personal journey in the December Newsletter
SAVING CUTTHROAT TROUT: In the November 2016 FENW Newsletter Matt Grove describes his work to inventory native cutthroat trout in every stream and lake in Eagles Nest Wilderness, using the power of molecular biology to identify environmental DNA (eDNA).
LOVED TO DEATH: In the October 2016 FENW Newsletter, KUNC reporter Jackie Fortier (right) writes about the impact that more than 130,000 visitors are having on Hanging Lake, with scary implications for Eagles Nest Wilderness.
FENW ADOPTS A TRAIL. This is Deluge Lake Trail, outside of Vail. FENW volunteers have worked all summer to keep the trail free of erosion, fallen trees. and other hazards. We are part of a larger effort to take the maintenance of all the Adopt A Trail miles off the Forest Service list and onto the volunteer organizations, like us. Next year, we hope to also adopt Pitkin or Bighorn Creek, so please CLICK HERE to let us know that you would like to help.
Read how Jim Furnish helped reshape the U.S. Forest Service with the help of a bird and a fish - from an agency focused almost entirely on "getting out the cut" to one that seeks a balance with the environment. It's a lesson in conflict resolution we could use more of this political season... Click HERE
We obliterated a total of 52 illegal campfire rings on two weekend trail & campsite projects, one to Upper Cataract Lake 15-17 July, and one to Slate Lakes August 12-14.
Warren/Oster Memorial Kiosk dedication: The Kiosk is named in memory of two lovers of Wilderness - Jacob Oster and Rick Warren. The front of the kiosk contains US Forest Service maps and information. Around behind is a tranquil picnic area, with table and plaques commemorating the lives of Rick and Jacob. More pictures HERE
Click image to enlarge This event was postponed due to inclement weather, but an alternative version rose like a phoenix when attendees retreated to a cabin on Pebble Creek. The Ute Pass version may be rescheduled. Please stay tuned. PICTURES from the event are HERE Erin Robertson's poem, "A View From Ute Pass," is HERE
"BIRDS OF EAGLES NEST WILDERNESS"
Sue also generously led a bird hike to the Afred M. Bailey Bird Nesting Area on North Rock Creek. It was a spectacular Colorado day. Below is a 17 second video of Sue identifying some bird songs...
The FENW JUNE NEWSLETTER features an essay by Dr. SUSAN BONFIELD about the fascinating lives of migratory birds, the threats they face on their journeys, the history of the Alfred M. Bailey Bird Nesting Area on Rock Creek, and some of the birdiest reasons to love the Eagles Nest Wilderness.
BIKES IN EAGLES NEST WILDERNESS? The FENW MAY NEWSLETTER features an essay by TIM DRESCHER about the growing cry to allow mountain bikes in Wilderness Areas.ROLLOVER -> REPLIES FROM READERSFEEDBACK FROM READERS: As one of the founders of the International Mountain Bicycling Asso (IMBA) and as a board member for 12 years I believe bicycles should not be allowed in wilderness. In my experience Mountain bicycling does alter the desired serenity obtained in the wilderness. National, State and Municipal Parks have lots of other lands which can be used for mountain bicycling. I believe you should concentrate your considerable passion for our sport to open up these other areas to mountain bicycling. Leave the wilderness as wilderness. Carl Birkrlbach
I am writing in support of FENW's position to continue to ban bikes in wilderness areas. Thank you for taking a stand on this important issue. I am a former volunteer wilderness ranger w/ FENW-now living in Southern Calif. My 40+ years experience hiking backpacking climbing mountain biking skiing in the Sierras and Rockies makes me think that the balance we currently have between wilderness areas as we currently define them and non-wilderness is a good mix. Especially in Summit Co which has many miles of bike accessible trails just across I-70 from no bike wilderness areas. The basic principles creating the wilderness act still exist. We need a place unmarked by man-made (other than trails) things. Let's leave it like it is. Tom Fry
Terrific job on the newsletter. I liked how you paraphrased what I wrote you ~ FENW's position on bikes in the Wilderness. Kudos. Frank Gutmann
What a great site! Congratulations on a job well done. John T. P.S. No to bikes!
NO bikes in the Wilderness! Too many people in these already. Bikes destroy trails. Jennifer Collins
I totally agree with FENW---no bikes in the wilderness---please Shirley Beaty
FENW, NO, NO, NO!!! to Mountain Bikes in the Wilderness. Keep them in the state forest or designated trails in State Parks but don’t ruin the Wilderness. Guy LaBoa
Leave them out. Adam Poe
I really don't think so. Bikes come on you so quickly that I personally get startled every time. I also have a little 6 pound dog that I walk on an extended leash in the woods so he can feel like he's free. When bikes come by I am always shouting please watch out for my dog, as they never see and several times have almost run him over. I am in the woods for peace and harmony, not to be startled by a biker. Thanks, Deborah Casaletta
I like your position supporting no bikes in Wilderness, but endorsing special provisions for keeping important mtn bike trails and allowing bikes, but excluding motorized travel. I hike and mtn bike and would prefer to allow non-motorized bikes in Wilderness, but there is too much prejudice against bikes, so your position is most practical. Thanks -----------Bill Adamson
just a quick note to express my appreciation for the FENW e-newsletter, "Eagle Post" you are putting together. The last one, featuring the issue of mountain bikes in the wilderness, was particularly informative with links to related information and a concise summary of where this topic is now. Education of the public, in this case all those who benefit from our wilderness areas, whether spiritually, financially, physically, etc., can go a long way towards protecting our wilderness areas for the present and future. FENW Eagle Posts are hopefully reaching those who can(or should) benefit from this information. As the trail project season gets underway, an Eagle Post illustrating what it takes to maintain our existing trails into the wilderness - allowing the pubic to enjoy these areas, - would be great. I have found most people have no idea who maintains these trails and the effort (volunteers and FS) involved. And trail construction and maintenance is one of the main reasons I am NOT in favor of bikes in the wilderness. I have had some experience in building and maintaining trails used by mountain bikers - a HUGE amount of work requiring MANY people!! Keep up the great work for FENW!! Suzanne Reed
HELP PROTECT PUBLIC LANDS After the Malheur OccupationFENW President Currie Craven wondered if the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge could happen here. In this thoughtful and passionate essay (rollover below), he presents FENW's stance on the issue of Public Land ownership. A pdf version is HEREROLLOVER -> READ MOREI am confident I am not the only citizen who is grateful the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is finally over. Being Westerners, many of us passionately care for our great American tradition of public land ownership. Like most passions, individuals are entitled to have great zeal to influence our actions in the public, political windstorm that has become current political discourse. Following a course of domestic terrorism is beyond accepted norms and, indeed, the rule of law.Those of us who follow public land issues through greater than usual observation have become increasingly alarmed with the trend some have likened to a resurgence of the "Sagebrush Rebellion" of the 1960s and 1970s.Current militant protest activities have been noted to be frequently ideologically based on interpretations of the US Constitution. These interpretations have largely been rejected by the courts. Undeterred, proponents of the view federal lands belong to states or counties have exhibited their rejection of the rule of law in extreme measures. Unlike the grazing, logging and mining interests of early days, the most extreme proponents bring modern semi-automatic weapons to the discourse, blatantly intimidating public servants, locals and their fellow Americans who would like to simply enjoy their public lands. These actions, whether in Oregon at a critical wildlife refuge, in Utah at Recapture Canyon over ATV abuse and damage to archeological treasures, or overgrazing in Nevada have correctly been described as domestic terrorism. As Americans, we support the right of other Americans to seek redress of grievance through protest. Bringing weapons, and threatening their use, is un-American, period. Opponents of our legacy of federal public land use also demonstrate less lethal, but no less un-American tactics.The concept of transferring control of public lands is challenged by national organizations as diverse as the Wilderness Society, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. A recent article by Josh Kuntz of the formerly mentioned group points out how lands under state control are frequently subject to mandates that they be managed "for the highest financial benefit of the state." Josh points out "Idaho has already sold over 1.5 million acres of state land…over 30 percent of all state lands it owned. Nevada sold 2.7 million acres (99.98 percent) of its state lands." The public is the loser of valuable access for short term gain.Representative Rob Bishop of Utah has effectively ended the highly popular and almost zero cost programs of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. According to an article by David Jenkins, Bishop has "recently unveiled a Utah public land initiative, which he describes as a 'massive land transfer.' " David continues, "Using the language of sovereign citizen extremists like Cliven Bundy, Bishop claims his group will develop a legislative strategy to 'return these lands back to the rightful owners,' in other words, take them away from the American people." We at Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness (FENW) take our responsibility of active stewardship of all public lands seriously. This is not an issue of political division. Republicans, in the great tradition of President Theodore Roosevelt, and Democrats, can find common cause in accepting the responsibilities of supporting public lands by paying attention, sharing concerns with family, friends, and acquaintances, and demanding public land support from elected officials. The Land and Water Conservation must be fully restored. Funding for catastrophic wildfire must be separate from U. S. Forest Service operational budgets. Land management budgets must be realistic to deal with the pressure of an ever growing admiring public who "love the resource to death," and deal effectively with U. S. Forest Service stated four threats: negative impacts from irresponsible recreation, loss of open space, catastrophic wildfire, and invasive-noxious weed species. FENW encourages our fellow citizens to pay attention and act. We must not allow threats to our cherished legacy of public land ownership on a national scale to be undermined by politics of division or budget impoverishment leading to neglect and despair. This is not for our time alone. I often quote President Teddy as he famously said, "the greatest good for the greatest number" applies to generations unborn "within the womb of time." We owe protection and responsible stewardship of America's unique public lands to those unborn within the womb of time, indeed not just our citizens, but of the world.