Moseley Donation to Lake Fork Conservancy Preserves Notable Slum Slide Acreage

Lake Fork Valley Conservancy Executive Director Camille Richard was positively giddy on a warm October morning last month as she led a small cadre of similarly-minded individuals on a short walking tour on the lower end of the Slumgullion Slide near the Lake Fork River.
“Isn’t this wonderful,” Richard declares — more as a statement than question — walking briskly with her exuberant dog, Star, and followed by a small group of invited friends. The group walks through a maze of towering spruce trees, quietly trudging on the trademark yellow soils of the Slum Slide, occasionally interspersed by exclamations from Richard as she points out fluttering winged wildlife and interesting rock formations, all basking beneath a bright Indian summer sky.
Richard explains that the land through which the group ambles constitutes an important milestone as Lake Fork Valley Conservancy becomes a large land-owning entity.
Local philanthropists Jack and Kathy Moseley, of Santa Barbara, California, have recently donated a 58-acre tract of land on the lower end of Slumgullion Slide to the conservancy with the express intent of preserving the land in its natural, pristine condition. In addition to their support of Lake Fork Valley Conservancy, the Moseleys are well known for their past financial contributions to local entities including the Moseley Health Care Center, Moseley Arts Center, Hinsdale County Museum, and Lake City Community School.
Accompanying last month’s informal tour of the newly-donated property was Lake Fork Valley Conservancy Chairman Harvey DuChene who says that the generosity and foresight of the Moseleys in donating the land to Lake Fork Conservancy “blows my socks off… this is truly a momentous donation in terms of preserving a notable natural environment.”
Both DuChene and Richard credit Jack and Kathy Moseley, and family members, as being “wonderful
to work with.” Richard notes that initial discussions on donation of the 58-acre Malter Placer to the conservancy date back to 2008.
On her exuberant hike showing off the newly acquired property, Richard carried with her a survey plot map of the land with handwritten notations in Jack Moseley’s hand describing trails, a picnic spot overlooking the lower portion of Argenta Falls, and “Kathy’s Black Diamond” ski run, which were informally identified by the Moseleys on the land after they purchased the tract from members of the pioneer Penniston-Williams family in 1996.
The tract of land is located on the northernmost end of Slumgullion Slide at the base of Slumgullion Pass and immediately adjacent to Latellya Smith’s Woodlake RV Park. It includes one side of 900’ of the Lake Fork River, adjacent landowners including Weems Malter Placer Subdivision across the river, as well as public BLM lands on adjoining portions of the slide.
Several privately owned mining claims are also adjacent neighbors to the Moseley property.
Unlike others in the walking party, Richard and DuChene were not the least out of breath on last month’s walking tour, DuChene enthusiastically pointing out “significant geologic points of interest,” while also citing the “notable ecosystem” and historic landmarks which include early transportation routes crossing portions of the property.
After the hike and during a short sit-down with SILVER WORLD, Richard and DuChene emphasize that the 58 acres donated by the Moseleys to Lake Fork Valley Conservancy will remain closed to the public pending completion of a management plan. Per the Moseleys wishes, the land will be maintained in its natural condition with no motorized or fishing access.
Work on the management plan, according to Richard, will take place this winter. Although still grasping the enormity of the recent land donation, Richard says that Lake Fork Conservancy intends to utilize the Slumgullion Slide lands donated by the Moseleys as a nature preserve with eventual plans for low-impact educational opportunities which will be available to the public.
DuChene, a retired geologist, is excited at the potential for supervised tours on portions of the land highlighting ecology and geology. Slumgullion Slide, he recounts, was responsible for the formation of Lake San Cristobal, Colorado’s second largest natural lake. Land now owned by Lake Fork Conservancy is at the juncture of the slide with underlying bedrock.
DuChene further explains that the Slumgullion Slide is internationally known as a notable geologic anomaly which is designated by the National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark and by the Colorado Natural Areas program as a designated Natural Area.
Additionally, the majority of slide which is administered by the Bureau of Land Management is credited as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
In addition to the study of geology and ecology, DuChene says the land offers the opportunity for the study of rare plants which thrive in the slide’s acidic soils.
“We are awed by the responsibility for taking care of this land,” says Richard, “and also our responsibility to the donors, Jack and Kathy Moseley, who gave the property with their express intent that it remain in its natural state.”
Although relatively new to the land-owning business, Lake Fork Valley Conservancy has a long history of land conservation and renewal. Among the organization’s projects was working with state and federal agencies on mine mitigation and water studies on Henson Creek, including work stopping acidic mine drainage into tributaries of Henson Creek on Engineer Pass.
The organization is also well known for its channel stabilization and enhancement work on both Henson Creek and the Lake Fork within the Town of Lake City.
As part of their stabilization work on the Lake Fork north of the Ball Flats Bridge, Lake Fork Valley Conservancy acquired through donation and purchase property aggregating roughly two acres. The lands were used in channel stabilization and as an envisioned natural river park for use by the public.
Lake Fork Conservancy also facilitated conservation easements on 123 acres at the inlet to Lake San Cristobal, together with an adjoining 40-acre tract, between the Plauche family and Colorado Opens Lands and Colorado Parks & Wildlife.