Wilderness Workshop works to keep our wild lands wild

While the Wilderness Act of 1964 set aside 9.1 million acres of pristine lands including 70,000 acres in the Maroon Bells/Snowmass area “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man,” to some Roaring Fork Valley residents, it wasn’t enough.

Joy Caudill, Connie Harvey, and Dottie Fox, the “Maroon Belles” as they became known, created the Aspen Wilderness Workshop in 1967 to secure wilderness designation for the Hunter-Fryingpan and Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Areas, and to increase the amount of acreage designated within the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area.

Their goals were accomplished with the passage of the Endangered American Wilderness Act in 1978, and the Colorado Wilderness Act in 1980 which together increased the size of the Maroon Bell/Snowmass Wilderness to 180,000 acres including Mount Sopris, Cathedral Lake and American Lake and also designated the Hunter-Fryingpan, Collegiate Peaks, Ragged Mountains and the West Elk wildernesses.

“It was [Caudill, Harvey and Fox’s] early work that is responsible for much of the wilderness we enjoy in this valley,” said Wilderness Workshop Executive Director Sloan Shoemaker. “Their first act was getting wilderness designated through the wilderness act, and then they shifted to ‘we’ve got wilderness, now we’ve got to come up with a management plan.’”

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