Access to Iconic Wilson Peak Protected (CO)

The Colorado office of the Trust for Public Land (TPL) today announced that on October 31, 2007 it finalized the purchase of 230 acres of properties in the Silver Pick basin near Telluride, Colorado. This purchase includes Wilson Peak, an icon of breath-taking mountain majesty and one of the most recognized peaks in the nation; accomplishes the first step toward restoring the safest, most direct access for hikers and climbers to Wilson Peak, Mt. Wilson, and El Diente; and forever protects the parcel from mining.

The total cost of the purchase from landowner Rusty Nichols (plus all related expenses) is $3.25 million. TPL has borrowed $1.7 million from Colorado Conservation Trust to complete the transaction.

“We are very gratified to take this initial step in the process to restore access to the Wilson Peak area,” said TPL Colorado State Director Tim Wohlgenant. “We have extended ourselves financially because this is such an extraordinarily vital property. There is only one Wilson Peak and the prospect of losing it to development is unthinkable.”

The purchase of this land by the Trust for Public Land is the first of several steps necessary to complete the permanent protection and restoration of public access through Silver Pick basin, thereby returning the best and safest climbing access to the mountain. Future steps include re-routing and improving the trail, for which planning is currently underway. TPL projects Silver Pick basin access and completion of the new trail to Wilson Peak to be accomplished by late Fall 2008 at the soonest. In time, the property will be conveyed to the US Forest Service.

“TPL is grateful to everyone who has supported this important conservation effort,” said Scott Dissel, TPL Colorado State Development Director, “including Dan and Sheryl Tishman, the Colorado Conservation Trust, the Telluride Foundation, Coors Brewing Company, the San Miguel Conservation Foundation and numerous individual contributors. We especially thank Golden resident and world-class athlete Erik Weihenmayer and his father Ed for their valuable time and talent in helping to raise awareness and funding for this purchase.”

The purchase agreement reached with Mr. Nichols has been three years in the making. Notably, in the eight month period between agreement and closing, TPL has already raised approximately one half the total project cost, and continues to raise funds to cover the purchase of the Wilson Peak properties.

Restoring safer and easier access to one of the most popular fourteen-thousand-foot peaks (also called fourteeners) in the nation is of great significance to thousands of climbers and hikers, to the many travelers who visit Colorado to enjoy its magnificent outdoors, and certainly to all Coloradans. Colorado’s fourteeners are arguably the symbol of Colorado, and a part of the state’s cultural identity. It is estimated that over half million people climb on the Colorado’s fourteeners each year. Standing at 14,017 feet, Wilson Peak is one of the most recognized fourteeners in the U.S. and its profile is often used as a symbol of the Colorado mountains.

“The magnitude of this acquisition is hard to overstate,” added Wohlgenant. “Restoring access and preventing mining on Wilson Peak is a monumental conservation success for the people of the State of Colorado and the nation.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL’s has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 45 states.

TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.