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WHO ARE WE?            
The Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness (FENW) 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 (click map at right)

FEWN 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
  • MISSION

  • FENW’s mission is to support the Forest Service to preserve the integrity of the Summit and Eagle county wilderness resource for its own sake and to sustain the character of the wilderness experience for its visitors.
  • We achieve our mission by deploying volunteer resources to implement boots-on-the-ground field programs focused on stewardship and education and by enabling the application of private funds to accomplish local wilderness objectives.
  • 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 FENW. 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.
    FRIENDS, FRIENDS, FRIENDS...      Confusing!
    In Summit County there are three "Friends of..." organizations.
  • Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness (FENW - that's us). We are all wilderness, all volunteer, all Summit & Eagle Counties.
  • Friends of Dillon Ranger District ( FDRD) embraces non-wilderness activities of the US Forest Service in Summit County, including biking, snowmobiling, hiking, skiing, boating, and hunting.
  • Friends of the Lower Blue River (FOLBR) comprises property owners and others committed to preserving the rural qualities of the lower Blue River Valley.

    SINCE 1994 FENW MEMBERS HAVE
  • Provided nearly seventeen thousand hours of volunteer service valued at nearly three-hundred and forty thousand dollars, through FENW's 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
  • Expanded FENW’s 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.




  • FOUR FOCUS AREAS
    1. EDUCATION
  • We fund and install trailhead Bulletin Boards with Interpretive Posters about the area, trails, regulations, and related information
  • We fund and install Wilderness portal signs
  • We funded a Wilderness Interpretive Display at the Dillon Ranger District Office in Silverthorne
  • We donated funds to the U.S. Forest Service to employ a Wilderness Ranger for Wilderness hunting patrol during hunting season. The patrol also benefits the Colorado Division of Wildlife
  • 2. OUTREACH
  • We sponsored the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (youth and at-risk youth) on three successful projects:
    - building the Middle Willow Creek bog bridge
    - replacing bridges over Slate Creek and Squaw Creek
    - reconstructing the Buffalo Mountain Trail
  • We partnered with Summit Fat Tire Society and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado on projects
  • We provided organizational assistance to the Wilderness Stewardship Network, White River Wilderness Coalition,and Friends of Dillon Ranger District
  • 3. ADVOCACY
    FENW has been an active participant in:
  • the White River National Forest Forest Plan revision process, including the Special Areas Work Group, the Travel Management work group, and the Forest Plan Revision forum in Summit County
  • the White River Wilderness Coalition, helping to develop input to Congress on proposed wilderness additions for the White River National Forest as envisioned in the revised Forest Plan.
  • Summit County Planning, including the Winter Trail Management work group, the Wildlife and Wetland Advisory Commission, and the Lower Blue Trails Technical Advisory group
  • 4. STEWARDSHIP
    FENW sponsors several trail maintenance projects each year, providing the muscle to help the U.S. Forest Service. These projects include:
  • Gateways in June – annual trail clearing and maintenance
  • Trail reroutes
  • Bridge construction and replacement
  • Campsite rehabilitation
  • A tool cache shared with other trail groups

  • Wilderness Facts and Figures
  • Congress created the Gore Range Primitive Area in 1932, comprising 32,400 acres in the Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forest, adding in 1933 47,300 additional acres in the Holy Cross National Forest.
  • The Eagles Nest Wilderness was created on July 12, 1976 by Public Law 94-352 to include 133,311 acres of National Forest. On November 12, 1997, another 160 acres, known as the Slate Creek Land Exchange, were added by Public Law 105-75.
  • Summit County contains about 82,484 acres of the Eagles Nest Wilderness with the remaining 50,582 acres in Eagle County.
  • The Eagles Nest Wilderness offers a variety of trails from an easy hike from the top of Ryan Gulch in Wildernest to Lily Pad Lake to the steep ascent up Buffalo Mountain to the 54-mile long Gore Range Trail that starts near Copper Mountain and ends at the northern Wilderness boundary west of Green Mountain Reservoir.
  • The Eagles Nest Wilderness is a Class 1 airshed.
  • The Holy Cross Wilderness was created on December 22, 1980 in the Colorado Wilderness Act, Public Law 96-560, and contains 122,884 acres in Eagle and Pitkin counties. About 164 miles of trails explore this wilderness with the high point being the famous Mount of the Holy Cross at 14,005 feet. The area around Mt. of the Holy Cross was a national monument before World War II!
  • The Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness was created on August 13, 1993 in the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993, Public Law 103-77, and contains 13,175 acres along the top of the Williams Fork Range in Summit County. Additional acreage to expand this Wilderness is included in the current White River National Forest plan.


  • Celebrate fifty years of wilderness with John Fielder's
    WILDERNESS 50 COLORADO poster
    Images from every Wilderness in the state (arrow marks Eagles Nest) frame a central image of Mt. Sneffels. Click on image to enlarge.
    Click here to order your copy.


    FENW will present framed copies (2x3') of this poster, signed by John Fielder, to the following, in appreciation of their generous support:
  • The A-Basin family (presented 28 May 2015 - see target="blank" fenw on facebook)
  • Town of Silverthorne,
  • Abby's Coffee (Frisco),
  • Bonfire Brewery