About Us

Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance (ESWA) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation formed in 1994.
Members assist two Ranger Districts (Dillon and Holy Cross, both in the White River National Forest) maintain three Wildernesses (Eagles Nest, Ptarmigan Peak, and Holy Cross), which are located in Summit and Eagle Counties.

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EARLY HISTORY by Maryann Gaug
After John Fayhee, his wife Gay, and photographer Mark Fox went on a backpacking trip in the Eagles Nest Wilderness with seasonal Wilderness rangers, Holly English and Katie Larson, John wrote an article for the Summit Daily News in 1994 noting "disturbing trail conditions and a need for current, attractive signage which would impart necessary information to trail users.”
After decades of 'Primitive Area' status, The Eagles Nest Wilderness was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976, after an arduous approval process (click  HERE  to see some of the originals). Located barely an hour from major metropolitan areas, Eagles Nest became increasingly popular with outdoor enthusiasts.
In 1994, after backpacking with two Wilderness Rangers in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, M. John Fayhee a Summit County journalist, wrote an editorial about the appalling lack of resources to maintain and protect this vulnerable area. After reading the article, Tom Jones, Jr., co-owner of Wilderness Sports , teamed with Fayhee and organized a public meeting, which gave birth to Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness (FENW - in 2019 the name was changed to Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance - ESWA). Currie Craven became Chairman of the Board, Ed Adams President, Fayhee Secretary, and Jones Treasurer. Frank Smith, Jr. and Wilderness Sports were instrumental in the group’s formation. Its initial attention was focused on the east (Summit County) side of the Wilderness.
Tight budget restrictions (which persist today) prevented the U.S. Forest Service from providing the level of care required for this increasingly popular Wilderness. Trail maintenance, visitor education, cleaning up unsightly hunters’ camps, and other activities all taxed USFS's resources, and became the focus of FENW's efforts.
In 2006, FENW expanded its mandate to include the west side of the Eagles Nest Wilderness (located in Eagle County near Vail). In addition, FENW expanded its Wilderness Volunteer Program to include Holy Cross Wilderness.
In the more-than-two-decades since its founding, FENW purchased and installed portal signs, bulletin boards, and interpretive posters on all official trails. FENW has also started a noxious weed treatment program to eradicate noxious weeds in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. All of these activities have been performed in close collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, and with the generous ongoing support of The Summit Foundation and the Towns of Silverthorne and Frisco.
Photo Gallery


[Unfortunately, these links disappeared and we are in the process of restoring them.]

The websites below are pertinent to our Mission, and include sites of general relevance to wilderness, and specific relevance to the Eagles Nest, Holy Cross, and Ptarmigan Peak Wildernesses, and to Summit County, Colorado.

Other Colorado Wildernesses
Poudre Wilderness Volunteers
Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance
Friends of Mt. Evans & Lost Creek Wildernesses
White River NF Consdervancy
San Juans Mountain Association

U.S. Forest Service
Dillon Ranger District (official site)
Dillon Ranger District (UNofficial site)
Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District
White River National Forest

FENW Supporters
Wilderness Sports
The Summit Foundation
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Arapahoe Basin Employee Environmental Fund
Copy Copy
Omni Real Estate

Summit County Information
Summit County Chamber of Commerce
Town of Silverthorne
The Town of Frisco
The Town of Breckenridge
Copper Mountain Resort Chamber

Caring for the Land
Friends of the Dillon Ranger District
Wilderness Connect
Leave No Trace
Poudre Wilderness Volunteers
Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance
Wilderness Workshop
San Juan Mountains Association
The Forest Conservancy (White River National Forest)
Friends of Mt. Evans and Lost Creek Wildernesses
National Forest Foundation
Friends of the Lower Blue River