No trails, no problem

2 11 2020

On Halloween, I had great fun hiking with a group from Telluride’s Sheep Mountain Alliance into a part of Spring Creek Basin that is overlapped by McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area.

Lexi and Mason from SMA brought five interested – and interesting – people to see this area that’s in the same county as Telluride (San Miguel) … and a world away climate- and geology- and geography-wise.

Disclaimer: The pic above of Juniper walking past McKenna Peak was NOT taken during our hike. πŸ™‚

We didn’t see any of our fabulous mustangs during our hike in the far southeastern part of the basin, but we did see a couple of tarantulas and lots of cool fossils (including a couple of faint but awesome nautilus impressions!). I got to talk about my favorite subject ever (I bet none of you can guess what that is … ;)), and Lexi talked to us about McKenna Peak and the CORE Act – the Colorado Recreation and Economy Act.

From the website:

“The CORE Act is the most significant and broadly-supported effort to protect Colorado’s most cherished lands, waters, and forests in a generation. The legislation would protect roughly 400,000 acres of public lands in Colorado, ensuring that future generations can always enjoy our state’s mountains, rivers and wildlife.”

McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area is proposed for inclusion in the San Juan Mountains area. This link shows the locations of the areas; scroll down to read a little more about McKenna Peak and see where it’s located. The entire WSA isn’t included, just the part in San Miguel County. As with anything else, politics plays a part. Our San Miguel County commissioners are fully supportive of this inclusion, just as they were of the naming of Temple Butte, which is in San Miguel County.

Regular readers know the shape of both McKenna Peak and Temple Butte as icons of our Spring Creek Basin horizon. Given our location and lack of specific trails, I don’t think we’ll be overrun with visitors. But how cool would it be to see the status of even part of this amazing landscape go from wilderness study area to full wilderness area? It’s protected from motorized/mechanized-vehicle use currently, which enables it to feel secluded and protected to the wild horses and other lives that know its wildness (even us humans).

Being able to share it with another few like-minded humans gave me great enjoyment. To see their wonder and appreciation of this landscape I love … well, to be perfectly honest, it made me happy. πŸ™‚


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11 responses

2 11 2020
Pat

What a great day you had hikikg and learning from each other!

2 11 2020
TJ

Yes, it was! πŸ™‚

2 11 2020
Maggie Frazier

Looks like a awonderful place – there is currently far too many inroads being made politically to damage our wilderness areas. We need many more wild place.

2 11 2020
TJ

It is. πŸ™‚

2 11 2020
Puller9

Would the Spring Creek Basin area then be managed by Forest Service?

2 11 2020
Puller9

Oops, or Nat’l Park Service?

2 11 2020
TJ

Neither. Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area is public land managed by BLM. McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area also is public land that falls within BLM management. Both are managed out of Tres Rios Field Office in Dolores. (In addition to documenting the mustangs, darting with PZP and other volunteer projects I do in the basin, I’m also the volunteer monitor for the WSA, also reporting to BLM.) As noted on this website – https://www.sanjuanwilderness.org/mckenna-peak-wilderness/ – “McKenna Peak would be the first desert wilderness designated under BLM administration in southwest Colorado. McKenna Peak’s eroded adobe badlands are presided over by imposing sandstone cliffs that rise 2,000 feet above the plain. The bill designates the northern half of the existing McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area (WSA) in San Miguel County as wilderness, and leaves the southern half in Dolores County as a WSA for future consideration.” As SMA’s Lexi explained to us, most people associate wilderness areas with alpine areas, but McKenna Peak would be an important high-desert, BLM-land addition to the wilderness system.

2 11 2020
Sue Story

“The first desert wilderness designated” – now how cool is that! 😊 Glad you had a nice day with with the visitors, TJ!

4 11 2020
TJ

I think it means first desert wilderness designated *in Southwest Colorado*. πŸ™‚ And yes, super cool!

2 11 2020
lovewildmustangs

sounds like a wonderful day for all of you! I would love to have been a part of that group too!

Sent from my iPhone

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4 11 2020
TJ

Yes, a wonderful day. πŸ™‚

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