Trust Our Land: The lake is saved! Now what? |

Trust Our Land: The lake is saved! Now what?

Bergen Tjossem
Trust Our Land
What do you think about the future of Sweetwater Lake? Visit to take our community survey. photo

For decades, Sweetwater Lake has been an asset to our community. The third-largest natural lake in Colorado, Sweetwater has been a destination and escape for locals and visitors alike. It has provided unique recreation opportunities, horse packing access, cultural resources, important wildlife habitat and more.

Our community has very much enjoyed accessing it for decades, though public access was limited because much of the area was the privately held 488-acre Sweetwater Ranch.

In 2019, the property was listed for sale as the most recent development plan failed to materialize. The Conservation Fund, Eagle Valley Land Trust and local advocates acted fast to permanently secure the property for our community. This was a unique opportunity — the property could have been purchased by another private developer and locked up from public access forever.

The Forest Service purchased the property in 2021 using funding from the Land & Water Conservation Fund to improve public access to Sweetwater Lake, enhance the recreation opportunities historically offered in the Sweetwater Lake area, and protect the social and natural characteristics of the area.

That’s a big responsibility. Even with the support of EVLT’s Stewardship and Equity Fund provided by The Conservation Fund, managing a property this important to our community would require teamwork.

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That’s where Colorado Parks and Wildlife entered the story. A pairing of the U.S. Forest Service’s vast land management experience with CPW’s park management expertise and operational capacity could help our community realize Sweetwater’s potential — though such a partnership has never been done before.

It’s the type of conservation partnership that, if done right, will provide a brand-new tool to our state, possibly the country. The most important guide for this process, however, is you. Listening to our community has led this coalition to the successful acquisition of Sweetwater Lake, and now we want to hear from you about how we can make it an asset to our community today and for all future generations that will enjoy it.

Many in our community have shared their thoughts, concerns, and ideas via our community Sweetwater survey, which is live at If you want to help shape the future of Sweetwater, please let us know what you think.

There will be many opportunities to provide feedback, including in-person open house sessions that are currently being planned; this survey is a starting point. Want to read the vision for the property, more about the beginning stages of the partnership and how to stay informed? Visit for the most up-to-date information, including how you can get involved.

To access the survey, visit

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