Top of the Pines - a unique open space with a useable portal into the wilderness, was acquired by Ouray County in 2002 from the BLM and the Grand Junction Chipeta chapter of the Girl Scouts when they decided it was no longer feasible for them to maintain a camp there.
When the Girl Scouts decided to let this camp go in the 90s and it looked like it might become private property, the Ridgway community jumped in. Funds were raised to purchase it, and then it was turned over to Ouray County to maintain as a magnificent public resource.
The property is managed by Top of the Pines, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, under contract with Ouray County for this purpose. The agreement with the BLM and the County requires that the property be open for use by groups who make reservations in the summer, but in the winter the open space preserve maintains seven kilometers of trails open to the public for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. This has been a highly successful arrangement, with usage year by year.
When TOP, Inc., took over management of the property in 2002, the buildings were in a serious state of disrepair, and debris littered the site. There was one small water storage tank, a decaying 40-year-old building originally used as a dining facility, inadequate electrical wiring and plumbing, no parking, unusable toilet facilities and an access road in desperate need of repair. The Girl Scouts had virtually abandoned the property for decades, resulting in no maintenance or oversight during that period.
Recognizing the investment potential and reality of such a large restoration project, TOP, Inc., adopted a phased development approach.
Phase 1, This was funded by GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) in 2007. Restoration of basic infrastructure began, which included work on the pavilion foundation and enclosing it, plus improving toilet facilities and utilities.
Phase 2, currently underway, includes completion of the interior of the pavilion and enclosure of the warming hut so that it can be used as an additional break-out room for environmental education groups and as an amenity for skiers and snowshoers, making it a year round facility.
These improvements, will provide much needed space for outdoor and environmental education for the users, especially the youth. With revenue generated from user groups and continued fund raising efforts, our goal is to continue upgrades and expansion as needed.