IPF is dedicated to protecting Independence Pass, one of America's great landscapes. We engage the public, especially young people, in service activities that connect them to their backyard, and work to ensure that this special place will continue to be experienced and enjoyed by future generations
From a letter of support from Karen Schroyer, Aspen-Sopris District Ranger, dated April 19, 2018:
We have enjoyed a 32-year relationship with IPF based on Non-Funded Cost Share Challenge Agreements under which IPF provides a host of services on the White River National Forest areas off of the Highway 82 corridor. These projects include:
1. Tree plantings. Continuing its decades-long relationship with the Aspen School District and more recently the Roaring Fork School District, IPF works with hundreds of children planting native saplings throughout the Independence Pass corridor.
2. IPF partners with middle and high school students, inmate work crews, addiction recovery centers, and others to remove rebar, metal cable, steel wire, and other debris from the Mountain Boy region of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.
3. Bird & wildflower walks and summit studies. IPF leads free walks with local ecologists in which participants learn about all aspects of the local flora, including the phenology and cover composition studies launched in 2016 with partners Colorado Mountain College and the Aspen Global Change Institute.
4. Noxious weed eradication. Year in and year out, IPF works to keep invasive weeds along the Highway 82 corridor at bay by hand pulling species like oxeye daisies, spotted knapweed, plumeless thistle, and yellow toadflax.
5. Winter Gate restoration. The winter closure area five miles east of Aspen, a popular jumping-off point for skiing, snowshoeing, and dog walking when the Pass is closed to cars, got a big facelift in 2017. Specifically, IPF removed the weed-infested berm to the north of the parking area and replaced it with a locally-sourced rock wall; planted the berm with native plants; removed the jersey barriers that served as a winter loading dock and replaced them with an attractive board-form concrete wall; worked with the Forest Service to install an information kiosk; and replaced the decades-old ramshackle gate with a new, elegant steel gate. IPF caretakes this popular skiing, hiking, and dog-walking area throughout the winter when the road is closed to vehicles.
6. Wilderness protection. IPF has teamed with The Wilderness Land Trust to purchase and transfer to the US Forest Service four mining claims in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness that carried with them the right to vehicular access and development, threatening Wilderness values. The west side of Independence Pass is now free from the threat of private development.
7. Telephone wire removal. IPF and citizen volunteers removed over ten miles of abandoned telephone wire along the Independence Pass corridor. In the process IPF removed hundreds of yards of steel wire embedded in the Roaring Fork River and thousands of pounds of metal from the otherwise pristine forests and meadows along the corridor.
8. Bear box installation. IPF helped the Forest Service install 21 bear-proof boxes - 300-pound metal containers designed for food storage - in the dispersed campsites that line Lincoln Creek Road. The campsites are popular for their easy access, proximity to excellent hiking trails, and the beautiful geology of the Lincoln Creek corridor. In 2016, the campsites were closed for over half the summer due to the persistent presence of bears.
9. Lincoln Creek campsite cleanup. IPF helped the Forest Service clear the Lincoln Gulch Campground and dispersed sites along the road after the historic March 2019 avalanche cycle. IPF also assists the Forest Service with end-of-season dispersed campsite trash removal and breaking down illegal fire rings.