About Us

Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance (ESWA) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation formed in 1994.
Members assist two Ranger Districts (Dillon and Holy Cross, both in the White River National Forest) maintain three Wildernesses (Eagles Nest, Ptarmigan Peak, and Holy Cross), which are located in Summit and Eagle Counties.

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ESWA is committed to helping the U.S Forest Service in several ways, including
preventing environmental degradation, protecting Wilderness characteristics,
promoting a land stewardship ethic, maintaining trails and bridges, mitigating noxious weeds, helping with Wilderness education, and advocating for local envrionmental projects.
MARYANN GAUG wrote an Early History of FENW:
After John Fayhee, his wife Gay, and photographer Mark Fox went on a backpacking trip in the Eagles Nest Wilderness with seasonal Wilderness rangers, Holly English and Katie Larson, John wrote an article for the Summit Daily News in 1994 noting… READ MORE.
BRIEF HISTORY
After decades of 'Primitive Area' status, The Eagles Nest Wilderness was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976, after an arduous approval process (click here to see some of the originals). Located barely an hour from major metropolitan areas, Eagles Nest became increasingly popular with outdoor enthusiasts.
In 1994, after backpacking with two Wilderness Rangers in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, M. John Fayhee a Summit County journalist, wrote an editorial about the appalling lack of resources to maintain and protect this vulnerable area. After reading the article, Tom Jones, Jr., co-owner of Wilderness Sports , teamed with Fayhee and organized a public meeting, which gave birth to Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness (FENW - in 2019 the name was changed to Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance - ESWA). Currie Craven became Chairman of the Board, Ed Adams President, Fayhee Secretary, and Jones Treasurer. Frank Smith, Jr. and Wilderness Sports were instrumental in the group’s formation. Its initial attention was focused on the east (Summit County) side of the Wilderness.
Tight budget restrictions (which persist today) prevented the U.S. Forest Service from providing the level of care required for this increasingly popular Wilderness. Trail maintenance, visitor education, cleaning up unsightly hunters’ camps, and other activities all taxed USFS's resources, and became the focus of FENW's efforts.
In 2006, FENW expanded its mandate to include the west side of the Eagles Nest Wilderness (located in Eagle County near Vail). In addition, FENW expanded its Wilderness Volunteer Program to include Holy Cross Wilderness.
In the more-than-two-decades since its founding, FENW purchased and installed portal signs, bulletin boards, and interpretive posters on all official trails. FENW has also started a noxious weed treatment program to eradicate noxious weeds in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. All of these activities have been performed in close collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, and with the generous ongoing support of The Summit Foundation and the Towns of Silverthorne and Frisco.

SINCE 1994 FENW/ESWA MEMBERS HAVE Provided nearly seventeen thousand hours of volunteer service valued at nearly three-hundred and forty thousand dollars, through our Volunteer Ranger Program, Trail Maintenance projects, and noxious weed eradication efforts.. Raised more than $120,000 through grant applications and fundraising Raised $25,000 from membership dues Established a membership of 200 families, individuals, and businesses from Summit County, other parts of Colorado, and several additional states Developed a website, www.fenw.org, with assistance from The Summit Foundation Developed and implemented a Wilderness Volunteer Program Started a noxious weed treatment program with the U.S. Forest Service xpanded our successful programs to help the Holy Cross Ranger District with the west side of Eagles Nest Wilderness and with the Eagle County portion of the Holy Cross Wilderness.
Photo Gallery

LINKS OF INTEREST

The websites below are pertinent to our Mission, and include sites of general relevance to wilderness, and specific relevance to the Eagles Nest, Holy Cross, and Ptarmigan Peak Wildernesses, and to Summit County, Colorado.