Conserving wetlands, replacing 130-year-old bridge

The work of the Crested Butte Land Trust embodies the heart and soul of the Gunnison Valley – wild places and spirited people. In 2017, The Chris Mikesell Foundation donated a $3,000 grant to help replace Gunsight Bridge, the only publicly accessible thoroughfare between the Slate River Valley and the town of Crested Butte.

Originally designed in the 1880s, the Gunsight Bridge has a storied history as part of the Denver Rio Grande Railroad leading to Smith Hill Mine. -Courtesy Photo

Originally designed in the 1880s, the Gunsight Bridge has a storied history as part of the Denver Rio Grande Railroad leading to Smith Hill Mine. -Courtesy Photo

The weather in Crested Butte can be harsh, and the Gunsight Bridge has withstood bitter winter cold and the heavy spring run-off for more than 130 years. Unfortunately, those years have taken a serious toll. The bridge is falling apart and needs to be redesigned and rebuilt.

Upwards of 100,000 people use the Gunsight Bridge throughout the year. It serves as a connection between the most popular trails in the Gunnison Valley. Each summer, thousands of locals and visitors take off for a peaceful paddle down the Slate River. Kids and young-at-heart adults wade and play in the cool waters, making lasting memories in the shadow of Paradise Divide. The Land Trust will work with an engineer and ecologists to replace the bridge. Reviving this area will not only protect these summertime opportunities but also the precious wetlands downstream.

Learn more about the history of Gunsight Bridge and plans to replace it.

Over the life of the Foundation, $50,000 has been donated to the Crested Butte Land Trust to help them continue their mission of land preservation.

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