Habitat Restoration

Anderson Lakes project

In one of last summer’s projects, volunteers helped transform an eroded mining road into a wilderness trail near Anderson Lake, south of Independence Pass.

We at the Wilderness Workshop spend a lot of time campaigning to prevent ecologically damaging things from happening to the local backcountry. Our Habitat Restoration Program, launched in 2011, focuses on ways we can actually repair the effects of past damage.

WW launched the program because there is a need and, in a time of limited federal budgets, there simply aren’t enough resources available for the feds to do the restoration work that needs to be done. For example, the White River National Forest’s Travel Management Plan identifies a number of routes that are too expensive or too damaging and need to be decommissioned. The Forest needs help implementing these decisions and we’d like offer whatever help we can marshal.

But on top of that, it’s fun and it’s a great way to involve you, our supporters, in the on-the-ground work of caring for this land we love.

Thanks to our project partners, the Colorado Mountain Club and the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District of the Forest Service, and to Alpine Bank, the Aspen Thrift Shop, Aspen Skiing Co. Environment Foundation and the Fred & Elli Iselin Foundation for financial support.

More about restoration

After over 150 years of European settlement of the Rocky Mountain West, our wildlands have experienced anthropogenic (human-caused) changes that have had significant effects on their ecological health.

Fire suppression has caused forests to become choked with unnaturally dense tree growth, leading to more severe and damaging wildfires. The invasion of non-native weed species has undermined wildlife habitat. Predator extermination has led to an overabundance of prey, disrupting the balance of vegetation types. A proliferation of forest roads and trails has fragmented habitat, producing ecological islands that are less able to support a full range of species.

Ecological restoration is the targeted repair of damage, or the removal of disturbance, to allow the land to heal itself through natural processes. It can include a wide scope of projects:

  • erosion control
  • removal of non-native species and weeds
  • revegetation of disturbed areas
  • reintroduction of native plant and animal species
  • habitat improvement for species of concern
  • road/trail decommissioning

Recent restoration projects have included turning old roads into trails, removing unneeded barbed-wire fences, pulling invasive weeds, and rerouting trails around sensitive wildlife habitat.