Save The Lake | Talking Points
Sweetwater Lake is a 488-acre private inholding within the White River National Forest, the most visited national forest in the country with approximately 15 million visitors per year.
Approximately 75% of the lake and nearly all the accessible shoreline are included.
The lake and the surrounding area are under threat from private development and extractive commercial uses.
Cultural resources significant to Native American tribes and local history are found on the property.
After the latest development effort to build over 240 homes and an 80-room hotel and golf course failed, the original investors took over ownership and shut down access to the lake and cabins and list the property for sale.
The Conservation Fund (TCF), a national non-profit land conservation organization, secured a contract to purchase the property from the sellers amidst competing bids from private developers.
A partnership is being formed consisting of The Conservation Fund (TCF), Eagle Valley Land Trust (EVLT), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and community partners. Our collective goal is to prevent the private development of the property by eventually selling it to the USFS to integrate it into the surrounding White River National Forest.
Assuming enough private pledges and favorable support from the USFS, local partners, and leading philanthropists can be gathered within the coming months, TCF anticipates buying and holding the property until sufficient funds are in place to allow the USFS to purchase the property from TCF. The USFS dollars will come from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
EVLT is raising awareness and support for this extraordinary project in our community. EVLT is also leading a private fundraising effort to secure the additional funding needed to ensure this unique property can be transferred to the USFS, securing numerous public benefits.
Together, we will protect and enhance an extraordinarily rare and unique scenic, natural asset that is of statewide and national importance and an essential part of the fabric of the local community by:
Creating new recreational access to Sweetwater Lake (one of Colorado’s largest natural lakes) for the general public to enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, paddleboarding and camping.
Providing better public access to the lake (over 1.5 miles of shoreline) and surrounding federal land, such as the Flat Tops Wilderness and the Ute Trail, including upgraded trailheads and campsites.
Expanding and creating new recreation opportunities. This project will increase the economic impact of outdoor recreation-based tourism which contributes over $62 billion to Colorado’s economy.
Supporting protection for the Upper Colorado watershed by placing the lake and its significant water rights under management of the USFS.
Protecting and creating legal, public access to the historic Ute cave on the property (currently the public trespasses on private land to see the cave).
Preserving important wildlife habitat, including the fishing grounds for osprey and bald eagles; and critical habitat for elk and deer.