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FEATURES

Wilderness Workshop

By Christine Benedetti

Executive Director: Sloan Shoemaker

06.06.18

Wilderness Workshop's annual gala, Wild Feast, will be held at the Caribou Club on June 27. Join them for live music and a seasonal dinner to protect our wild lands, with special guest speakers Sharon Buccino and Nada Culver. Visit wildernessworkshop.org/wildfeast to purchase tickets.

 

What is the mission of Wilderness Workshop?
Our mission is to protect and conserve the wilderness and natural values of the Roaring Fork watershed, the White River National Forest, and adjacent public lands. We are a nonprofit organization that engages in research, education, legal advocacy and grassroots organizing to protect the ecological integrity of local landscapes and public lands. We focus on the monitoring and conservation of air and water quality, wildlife species and habitat, natural communities and lands of wilderness quality.

 

How does the valley benefit from this organization?
The magnificent public lands surrounding the Roaring Fork Valley are what sets this place apart from anywhere else. These wildlands provide us with pure air and water, abundant wildlife, extraordinary scenery, unparalleled recreation, and spiritual renewal and inspiration, all of which form the basis for our local way of life and robust economy. People ask, “But these are U.S. Forest Service and BLM lands, aren’t they already protected?” Yes and no. They are protected from the many kinds of commercial and residential development you see on private lands. But the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have multi-use mandates which require the agencies to manage public lands for often conflicting purposes: wildlife and habitat, recreation, water, livestock forage, timber, hard rock mining (gold, silver, marble, etc.) and fossil energy resources. Wilderness Workshop is the only organization in the region with the sole mission of protecting the ecological integrity and wild nature of these public lands.

 

What are some of your recent successes?
Protecting the Thompson Divide
This is one of the Workshop’s longest running, high profile campaigns. The Thompson Divide is a vast expanse of wild country comprised of 220,000 acres of public land west of Carbondale and south of Glenwood Springs. It supports some of the oldest ranching operations in the valley, and draws hunters, anglers and recreationists from across the country.

Protecting Castle and Maroon Creek Valleys from Dams
Partnering with state and national nonprofits, as well as Pitkin County, we’re working through the Colorado Water Court Process to create a win-win solution that allows the city of Aspen to keep some of their water rights while ensuring these two iconic creeks are never dammed.

Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act
We’re working with a broad coalition of mountain bikers, local governments, veterans and business owners to protect nearly 100,000 acres along the Continental Divide in Summit County and surrounding Vail.

How can members of the community get involved?
Each and every citizen is a co-owner of our federal lands, and has a right to voice his or her opinion about how they should be managed. Every day we work with citizen advocates who write letters, visit or call their members of Congress and speak out at public meetings to protect wildlife and natural ecosystems. Educating the public is one of our core activities. We offer a free hike series every summer to take people into the areas we are working to protect. In the winter, our free Naturalist Nights 10-session series hosts experts on natural science and public land conservation issues. We offer film screenings, lectures, panel discussions and other public interface opportunities to engage on public lands issues. We lead restoration projects where teams of volunteers restore landscapes by pulling wildlife entangling barbed wire, removing noxious weeds, or replanting a wetlands.

Photo by Jon Mullen

51
Number of years since WW was founded, making it the valley's oldest environmental organization

4 MILLION
Acres of WW's "turf" of the public lands surrounding the Roaring Fork Valley

33,000
Acres of land saved from drilling by the cancellation of 25 illegally issued leases in the Thompson Divide

7
Number of Wilderness areas WW has helped create or expand 500,000+ acres of land included in those wilderness areas

800
Number of current WW members (plus you!)

To donate to Wilderness Workshop or to get involved, visit wildernessworkshop.org or call 970.963.3977