Decade-Long Effort to Preserve 10K Acres in Ophir Valley Completed

TELLURIDE, COLORADO, 6/23/2009: With the purchase of 1,100 acres just outside of Telluride, Colorado, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) will complete its protection efforts in the Ophir Valley, an endeavor nearly 10 years in the making.

The effort builds on TPL’s preservation of more than 9,000 acres of high country mining claims in the triangle of land between Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride. Working closely with the key landowner, the San Miguel Conservation Foundation, local governments, and the Forest Service, virtually all the private lands surrounding the tiny town of Ophir are now protected.

Protecting these properties and transferring them to the Forest Service will preserve hiking and skiing access to the surrounding Uncompahgre National Forest, a favorite area for high-country enthusiasts, and maintain the beautiful scenery and high quality of life for the valley’s residents and visitors.

“We’ve been working to protect this fabulous high alpine valley for almost 10 years,” said Hillary Merritt, Project Manager for TPL. “It’s a testament to the tenacity of our friends who love the town of Ophir that we’ve managed to complete the purchase to the satisfaction of everyone involved.”

“We also want to recognize the foresight of the former landowner, Glenn Pauls, who purchased this collection of properties over the years and left it in its natural state, allowing us the opportunity to achieve such a great conservation victory in one fell swoop,” said Merritt.

“This beautiful landscape is at the heart of our way of life here in the Ophir Valley,” said Ophir Town Manager Jason Wells. “I’m just thrilled to think that we’ve managed to put it out of reach of developers. It’s going to be as unspoiled for my kid’s children to enjoy as it is for me today.”

As Congress appropriates the necessary funding, the property will be transferred to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the Uncompahgre Forest, which will be the long-term steward of the land.

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 has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 45 states. In Colorado, TPL has protected over 100,000 acres of neighborhood parks, greenways, wildlands and working farms and ranches. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.