High Country Conservation Advocates protects the health and natural beauty of the land, rivers, and wildlife in and around Gunnison County now and for future generations.
WHAT WE DO
High Country Conservation Advocates was founded in 1977—as High Country Citizens’ Alliance—to protect Gunnison County, Colorado from a proposed molybdenum mine on Mt. Emmons. Known locally as “Red Lady,” Mt. Emmons rises directly above the Town of Crested Butte’s historic district. Since then, HCCA has successfully led the community in keeping Mt. Emmons mine-free and is now working with the local partners such as the Town of Crested Butte, Gunnison County, the current owner of the mine properties, and state and federal agencies to take advantage of an opportunity to secure permanent protection for Mt. Emmons. As an outgrowth of this work, we have become Gunnison County’s environmental leader, protecting public lands, water, and wildlife in an area that covers more than 3,500 square miles, which is larger than any National Park in the lower forty-eight.
We are an advocacy organization that collaborates with local stakeholders and policymakers, applies sound science, educates, and upholds the environmental laws affecting our community. We recognize that environmental sustainability is the key to a healthy economy.
We advocate for protection along the high alpine tundra of the Raggeds Wilderness and Collegiates, past the steep cliffs of the Black Canyon, from the North Fork of the Gunnison River’s rolling scrub oak hills and aspen groves, to the rushing waters of the Lake Fork. Our work ensures these iconic public lands and waters will be healthy for generations to come.
Decades of Achievements
High Country Conservation Advocates began its long journey in 1977, when Red Lady and our community were first faced with the threat of a molybdenum mine from a company called Amax. In 1981, after four hard-fought years, the groundswell of community opposition and a drop in the moly market led to a reprieve. It was short-lived, as several mining companies, in succession, tried to develop a mine over several decades. HCCA persevered, and to this day is working to keep a moly mine from ever operating on the outskirts of Crested Butte. We currently have reason to be hopeful for success, and a permanent solution to this issue may be on the horizon.
Realizing that environmental threats go well beyond mining, HCCA developed public lands and water programs to protect these precious resources, upon which our local economy depends, and we have had innumerable achievements over the decades. In recent years, our efforts have become more vital due to the threat of climate change and ecosystem damage it could cause. Whatever the challenge, we are well-equipped to seek solutions wherever possible.