Grantee Update: Long Live Long Lake

Noel Durant is the executive director at the Crested Butte Land Trust. We awarded CBLT a grant to support their Long Lake Land Exchange project in September, 2018.  This project is a truly unique opportunity and we’re proud to support it.   
Long Lake sits on a ridge just north of the town of Crested Butte in Southwestern Colorado. Easily accessed from town, this lake is a community gem that needs a local oversight. Currently, the property is in the crosshairs of the public lands debate because the US Forest Service (USFS) has prioritized this property for disposal. Fortunately, local USFS staff approached the Crested Butte Land Trust with the opportunity to acquire this 120-acre tract of public land that is surrounded by private property and shares a key boundary with currently conserved land. This opportunity comes at a critical time for Crested Butte. Significant real estate development pressure and a rising cost of living is threatens our open space and the fabric of this community.
As a local swimming hole and classic afternoon hike, Long Lake is known for its accessible recreational use. However, public recreation on Long Lake isn’t guaranteed. This community gem could be sold to a developer and therefore the current marriage of recreation, wildlife habitat, and ranching would be lost forever. The stakes have never been higher.
The Long Lake Exchange is a perfect example of how it is possible to balance conservation values. The completion of this project will ensure public access to the lake and that wildlife habitat and recreation will remain intact now, and into the future. In addition, the Land Trust will continue to lease 44-acres of the Long Lake property to the Allen Ranch to graze a critical corridor connecting grazing leases, allowing ranching to thrive in the Gunnison Valley.
How does the Crested Butte Land Trust plan to do this?
It’s a bit complicated, so bear with us. To own and protect community access to the eastern shore of Long Lake, the Land Trust will conduct a land exchange with the USFS.
The Land Trust will purchase 613 acres on the western slope of Fossil Ridge in the Lost Canyon area from the Trust for Public Land (TPL). The Land Trust will then trade the newly purchased Fossil Ridge property along with d 15 acres the Land Trust owns on Copley Lake, near the town site of Irwin, for full ownership of 120 acre Long Lake property. The USFS will manage the Copley Lake and Fossil Ridge properties on behalf of the American people, for everyone to enjoy.
The Fossil Ridge acreage was donated by longtime locals Judy and Butch Clark who, with great foresight, included a future-sale stipulation that all proceeds from the sale of Fossil Ridge directly support the need for affordable housing in the Gunnison Valley. Therefore, over $2.5 million raised to purchase Fossil Ridge property will go directly to the Gunnison Valley Housing Foundation, a private, nonprofit foundation focused on addressing affordable housing in partnership with public partners.
This project embodies the heart and soul of Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley. The Long lake Land exchange will conserve land, secure recreational access, and make housing more affordable. What’s not to love?
To learn more about this project visit or email our Executive Director, Noel Durant at