Colorado Fourteeners Initiative was formed in 1994 as a partnership of nonprofit organizations, concerned individuals, and public agencies to preserve and protect the natural integrity of Colorado’s Fourteeners after a 1993 study noted significant environmental impacts due to rapidly expanding recreational use. Founding organizations included the Colorado Mountain Club, Colorado Outward Bound School, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, and the US Forest Service.
Since CFI’s founding, Colorado’s population has been among the fastest growing in the nation. Between 1990 and 2010 Colorado added 1.7 million new residents, a 53% increase. Outdoor recreation is the second-largest segment of Colorado’s tourism industry with over 40% of visitors stopping in the mountains, putting increasing pressure on these unique and fragile ecosystems.
Today, CFI is the nation’s leading high-altitude trail-building, terrain-restoration, and visitor-education organization. CFI has built 29 sustainably located, designed and constructed summit routes on 26 peaks, with its work garnering honors and awards from Congress, the US Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation and other organizations.
Colorado Fourteeners Initiative protects and preserves the natural integrity of Colorado’s 54 14,000-foot peaks, the "Fourteeners", through active stewardship and public education.
Colorado’s Fourteeners contain rare and fragile native alpine tundra ecosystems that are uniquely adapted to living on these high peaks. These tundra plants, some of which exist nowhere else on earth, are ill-adapted to being trampled by the estimated quarter-million people who climb these peaks every year. In many places, resource damage is past the point of natural recovery:
Create a structure for engaging local communities in the protection of Colorado’s highest peaks.
Build and maintain sustainable hiking routes on Colorado’s 14ers to accommodate hiking use while minimizing damage to native alpine ecosystems.
Close, stabilize, and restore trampled and eroded areas to protect sensitive alpine plant and animal communities.
Educate Fourteener hikers about Leave No Trace principles and sustainable recreational practices designed to lessen ecosystem impacts.
Through this unique, voluntary partnership, Colorado’s Fourteener ecosystems are protected from harm while continuing to make the peaks accessible to hikers without burdensome restrictions and fees.
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