Q: Where are We?
A: Our valley resides within the boundaries of the Lake Fork watershed.
Encompassing nearly 400 square miles, the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River Watershed is situated on the northern flank of the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado, and is part of the Colorado River Basin. The Lake Fork flows through an amazing diversity of habitats, from vast meadows of alpine tundra at the highest elevations to rocky sagebrush canyons at the lowest.
Q: What's a Watershed?
A: Watersheds are areas of land where all the water drains to one point. They act similar to a sink. For us, the drain is located where the Lake Fork of the Gunnison flows into Blue Mesa Reservoir.
Q: Tell me About the Lake Fork and Lake City
A: That's not a question, but okay.
The Lake Fork and its primary tributary, Henson Creek, form two important riparian corridors (read: the habitat resulting from the relationship of land and water) through narrow mountain canyons.
The Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), based at Colorado State University, has identified a number of plant and animal species and communities that are rare or endangered within the Lake Fork Watershed. This includes eight species of rare or declining birds and mammals, five species of butterflies, one trout species (cutthroat), 26 species of plants, and 23 plant community types, the majority of which are riparian or wetland in nature.
Lake City is situated at the confluence of these two waterways, and is the only community in the watershed. We've got a permanent population of about 500. First settled in the 1870s, the watershed has experienced a colorful history highlighted by gold and silver mining, cattle and sheep ranching, and tourism. Today, tourism, subdivision development and recreation dominate the economy and create unique impacts on the watershed's ecology. Most human activities occur in the narrow valley bottoms of Henson Creek and the Lake Fork, making them areas of particular concern.
The Lake Fork of the Gunnison remains a lightly populated and relatively undisturbed watershed by Colorado standards. Moreover, the vast majority of the land is publicly held: 90%.
The local population appreciates the character of the watershed as it exists, and is sensitive to protecting the natural environment as vital to the economy of the area. It is our belief that stakeholder-based watershed planning and stewardship is the surest approach for protecting both the economic and ecological health of the watershed for generations to come.
About Our Valley
Landscape & Geology
Fisheries & Wildlife
History & Culture