HESSIE – LOST LAKE SPECIAL INTEREST AREA
DRAFT CONCEPT PAPER
(June 27, 2016)
The Hessie-Lost Lake area is a heavily used gateway into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. But management of the area has changed little from when the Indian Peaks were first designated as wilderness in the late 1970s. The Hessie-Lost Lake area was not designated wilderness but receives the heaviest recreational use.
There are considerable wildlife, plant, cultural, watershed, and recreational resources in the Hessie-Lost Lake area that need recognition, protection, and where appropriate, proper management. Better management of recreational access and use combined with interpretation of some of the resources, would enhance the visitor experience while reducing the unintended consequences of overuse and uncontrolled use. The area needs recognition as a cohesive unit from the Hessie Trailhead to the wilderness boundary.
It is likely that the area was not designated wilderness due to the presence of a sizeable amount of private land in the form of mining claims, both placer and lode claims. However, a considerable amount of the private land has been acquired by public agencies, including the Toll Property along Middle Boulder Creek by the Forest Service, and many of the mining claims in the Lost Lake and Grand Island areas by Boulder County. It is anticipated that this acquisition will continue.
The eastern portion of the Hessie-Lost Lake area is part of an east-west wildlife movement corridor that is constricted by the presence of the Town of Eldora/Hessie Trailhead on the north and Eldora Mountain Resort on the south. This is one of the corridors that connects the Arapaho Ranch Wildlife Refuge with the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Boulder County, with assistance from the Eldora Civic Association, has been acquiring the numerous mining claims on Spencer Mountain to help protect this corridor. The proposed expansion of Eldora Mountain Resort down to Middle Boulder Creek would only further constrict this corridor with a land use that has no relationship to the Indian Peaks.
A preliminary boundary of the Hessie-Lost Lake Special Interest Area (approximately 1,360 acres) is depicted on the attached map. The western extent is the current boundary of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The southern extent is the natural gas line that runs along the top of Bryan and Guinn mountains, as well as the current permit boundary of the Eldora Ski Area. The northeast extent is the Fourth of July Road (Boulder County Road 111). The far east extent is the west edge of the community of Eldora.
The map depicts a number of significant resources, including wildlife movement corridors, and one major resource issue within the Hessie-Lost Lake Special Interest Area. This list is not exhaustive but provides a quick accounting of some of the more significant known natural and cultural resources found in the area.
- Hessie Townsite Cultural Area: Hessie Townsite is a cultural resource site that could be interpreted (Colorado Cultural Resource Survey 5BL9108).
- Miners’ Hollow Old Growth Forest: This is an old growth mixed mesic forest that was documented in the Eldora Environmental Preservation Plan.
- Lost Lake Cultural Area: Above and east of Lost Lake are the remains of a mining district.
- Lost Lake South Potential Conservation Area (PCA): This area contains the Rocky Mountain capshell snail (Acroloxus coloradensis), a Colorado Species of Special Concern, and a historic breeding record of boreal toad (Bufo boreas boreas) a Colorado Endangered Species. They are documented in the report by Colorado Natural Heritage Program (2009) Final Report: Survey of Critical Biological Resources in Boulder County 2007-2008.
- Chittenden Mountain Potential Conservation Area (PCA): This area contains subalpine grasslands dominated by Thurber fescue (Festuca thurberi), plant communities that are considered vulnerable globally and rare in Colorado. as ranked by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. They are documented in the report by Colorado Natural Heritage Program (2009) Final Report: Survey of Critical Biological Resources in Boulder County 2007-2008.
- Hessie Wetlands: This area includes the riparian area of Middle Boulder Creek and a beaver enhanced willow carr. This area is rich habitat for breeding birds, moose, and small mammals.
- Middle Boulder Creek Wildlife Corridor: This is the area between the existing ski area and the Hessie Trailhead where wildlife movement is constricted. This area includes a portion of one of the routes used by elk for movement between the Arapaho Ranch and the Indian Peaks. This is a constricted movement corridor as it passes between the community of Eldora/Hessie Trailhead and the ski area. Observations of animals and their signs indicate that it is used by other animals, including black bear, mule deer, mountain lion, American marten, and bobcat. It would be a potential route for lynx, as they get better established in Boulder County.
- Chittenden Wildlife Corridor: This area includes a portion of one of the routes used by elk for movement between the Arapaho Ranch and the Indian Peaks.
- Hessie Parking Issue Area: Not since the early 1980s has a comprehensive planning process occurred that looks at the parking and access issues at the Hessie Trailhead. It is time to revisit this issue.