Mormon Creek - 4,110 acres (6.4 square miles)
The proposed Mormon Creek Wilderness Area is an expansion of the Holy Cross Wilderness. It consists of a heavily wooded mountain that divides Cunningham Creek from the North Fork of the Fryingpan River. Lodgepole pines dominate the lower reaches with aspens and spruce/fir forests up higher. The elevation ranges from 9,300 feet near Henderson Park to 11,800 feet on the Mormon/Cunningham divide. The terrain is generally steep and there are no developed trails in the proposal area.
The Mormon water diversion tunnel runs underneath the unit. The White River National Forest officially recommends that the Mormon Creek area be added to the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. It is currently being managed as Wilderness so as not to impair its Wilderness values until Congress has the opportunity to act upon the USFS recommendation.
What's special about it?
The proposed Mormon Creek Wilderness Addition is a steep and heavily wooded arm of the Sawatch Range, retaining a wild and primitive quality. In addition to being summer range for deer and elk, this unit is part of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program's North Fork Fryingpan Potential Conservation Area. It also contains riparian areas and wetland plant communities of high biodiversity significance, and the southern half of the unit has been identified as high-priority habitat by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Cunningham Creek on the southern boundary is a fishery for the Colorado River cutthroat trout - a species listed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife as a "Species of Special Concern." The Fryingpan River headwaters area is considered prime lynx habitat because of places like the proposed Mormon Creek Wilderness Addition.
The steep slopes of this proposed Wilderness Addition currently make it unsuitable for logging and the roads it would require. However, it is not inconceivable that the area's timber wouldn't one day become economically viable. Other than some fishing and hunting on the creeks at its boundaries and some dispersed camping, the proposed Mormon Creek Wilderness Area sees little, if any additional recreational use.
Division of Wildlife habitat qualities, species of significance
Mormon Creek is located in Eagle and Pitkin counties and is composed of a variety of habitat types ranging from willowed riparian areas to lodgepole with spruce/fir. This area lies adjacent to Cunningham Creek, which has been established as a self-sustaining Colorado River Cutthroat fishery. Watersheds adjacent to the river should remain roadless in order to minimize erosion, sedimentation, and impacts to the river ecosystem. Current management is for dispersed recreation and elk habitat.
CDOW management recommendations: The unfragmented extent of the Mormon Creek area provides significant and vital habitat for a variety of terrestrial and avian species. Unbroken roadless areas are essential for maintaining the ecological health of the habitat used by these species. Areas adjacent to Cunningham Creek need to be preserved to protect a viable and sustaining Colorado River cutthroat trout population. Therefore, the area should remain as a roadless area.
How to get there
- To reach the proposed Mormon Creek Wilderness Area, drive up Fryingpan Road from Basalt, past Ruedi Reservoir. Two miles past Thomasville, at Biglow, bear left on the North Fork Road (FS 501) .The proposed Wilderness Area begins on your right as you pass Henderson Park. FS 501 continues along the northern boundary of the proposed Wilderness Area and ends at Savage Lakes Trailhead. Turn right at Henderson Park on FS 538 to drive along the southern boundary of the RA.
- The USGS 7 1/2' quad for the proposed Mormon Creek Wilderness Area is Nast.
The Mormon water diversion tunnel runs underneath the unit. The proposed Mormon Creek Wilderness Area is one of ten Roadless Areas that, together with the Holy Cross Wilderness Area, comprise a roadless complex of over 165,000 acres (257 square miles). The White River National Forest officially recommended that the Mormon Creek area be added to the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. It is currently being managed as a Wilderness so as not to impair its Wilderness values until Congress has the opportunity to act upon the USFS recommendation.