Gilpin - Clear Creek Home
& Landowners Association, Inc.

P.O. Box 237 - Idaho Springs, CO 80452


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Newcomers' Information

Emily's Evans
Welcome to York Gulch
So you are thinking of buying land in York Gulch. First, we would like to welcome you, and introduce ourselves. The homeowners association in this area is called Gilpin Clear Creek Home and Landowners Association (GCCHLA).

The Association was formed in 1978 to work with the U.S. Forest Service to obtain road permits. We continue to provide basic road maintenance such as grading and repair; handling area-wide projects such as controlled burns and other fire mitigation, and group response to problems such as pine beetle; and co-ordinating the permitting of roads with the Forest Service.

We would like to provide you with a brief overview to York Gulch and some thoughts about mountain living. A list of resources is at the end, and most of the terms with which you are unfamiliar should be described in the Quik-Ref.

Choosing and Buying Land

All of York Gulch is comprised of Forest Service and ex-BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands. Private ownership is restricted to mining claims that were patented in the late 1800's and therefore predate the two governmental agencies. Mining claim grants were almost always 150' by 1500', or approximately 5.1 acres in size. None of the mines is currently active, and only one or two could ever be returned to production.

Due to the nature of 19th century gold mining, the claims often crisscross each other, with the oldest claim generally gaining precedence over newer claims. This means your claim may lie in several pieces, intersected by various other claims. If so, your total acreage will be less than 5.1 acres.

The available maps are generally accurate in terms of where the claims lie in relationship to each other. However, the roads were drawn over the existing maps, and are not accurate relative to the claims. The map may show your land with road access where it does not exist. It may show your claim on the wrong side of a road. We are not offering legal advice, but we feel the following items are extremely important:

Before closing on your land,

  1. Obtain a legal description of the property to establish exactly what parcel(s) of land you are buying. If the claim is broken up, know how big the portions are. Know which claims supercede yours.

  2. Have the property surveyed to establish the exact location. Be sure you have road access, that you are buying the piece of land you want, and that the access road is permitted by the Forest Service.

  3. Be sure your claim has proper zoning for the use you have planned. Both Clear Creek and Gilpin counties have fairly strict, and strongly enforced, zoning and building regulations.
If your claim does not have existing road access, there are several factors to consider:

  • If another claim sits between your claim and the road, they do have to give you access to your property. This means you may walk across their land to reach yours, or drive on a permitted road. They DO NOT have to let you build a road or driveway across their land. They DO NOT have to let you use their driveway to access your claim.
  • If you do get permission to build a road across a nearby claim, or access your property from someone else's driveway, get it in writing. Again this is not legal advice, but a written contract can save future problems. People sell their land, get divorced, die, or change their minds. Handshakes are nice, contracts are better.
  • If nearby claim owners will not give you permission to build a road to your land, you will need to get permission from the Forest Service to build a road across public lands. They will normally give you permission, but the process can take several years. The Forest Service will consider factors such as existing wetlands and potential road grade when granting permits.
  • GCCHLA is attempting to research the existence of "Historical Roads" to provide possible access to presently inaccessible claims. We have formed a Road Access committee to determine which historical roads could be reopened to provide road access to more claims. Some claims were accessed by old mining roads which may be able to be partially reopened, to provide access to one or more claims. Some claims were only accessed by walking trails, and these will not be turned into roads.

Choosing Your Homesite

mountain home
Once you have determined exactly what land you are buying, here are a few factors to consider when choosing your homesite:

  • Mining claims all have "exploratory holes", but some contain real mines. Mine tailings can cause serious health hazards. Building over an old mine shaft could cause structural damage to your house. Your water quality can also be affected. If you try to build near or on top of an old mine, you may find yourself involved with several State and Federal agencies, including the EPA. You can find out about mine locations and size from old claim documents available from the Bureau of Land Management. You can also locate exploratory holes which aren't usually a problem.

  • The people who live in the Gulch did not move this far away to see into other people's bedrooms, or hear their radios. If you like to be close to your neighbors, there are several very nice areas in Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Evergreen and Golden with mountain locations and subdivision-like settings. Please follow the rule "Do not build close to thy neighbor's house".

  • If you love a view, chances are the neighbors love it too. When you choose your homesite, follow the rule "Do not block thy neighbor's view".

  • There are laws and regulations about locating wells and septic systems near existing systems. Find out the locations of existing wells and septic systems when you are choosing your homesite; you may not be able to build where you had planned.

  • Be considerate with the placement of any livestock or animal enclosures. Large animals are allowed, but check existing zoning laws first. Too much animal waste can contaminate nearby wells, and the odor can make nearby outdoor activity intolerable. Remember neighbors don't love your animals as much as you do.

Alternative Energy

Most of York Gulch is "Off the Grid". This means electricity is made from sun and/or wind, not gotten from power lines. We like it this way. If your realtor tells you everyone will help you pay to bring electricity to your property, don't believe it. Not only will everyone not help pay, they probably will not talk to you or help you out of a ditch in a snowstorm.

Alternative energy has come along way in the last few years. For a list of Alternative Energy Web sites, email mbowman@scribble-count.com and put "Alternative energy" in the subject line.

Living with the Wildlife

Depending on your location, wildlife can include mice, pack rats, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, moles, pica, raccoons, deer, elk (rarely), coyote, bobcat, bear, and mountain lion. In addition we have owls, hawks, falcons and an occasional eagle. Many of these are predatory creatures; some of the others are nuisances unless you are very well developed spiritually. Coyotes and mountain lions love unleashed dogs and outside cats; owls and hawks also like unleashed cats and small dogs. (Animals leashed outside are even easier to snare and taste just as good.) Bears like garbage, bird feeders, and food of almost any kind, especially in April and October. Deer, elk, and rabbits love gardens, flowers and shrubs.

Those of us who have chosen to live in the Gulch believe in living in concert with nature. (Everything but the mice.) This sometimes means making concessions, but the joy of living with and observing nature makes it worthwhile.

In other words, you don't get to shoot the animals just because they ate your garden, broke into your garbage can, or killed your cat. Information about living with wildlife can be obtained from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Privately Maintained Roads

York Gulch Road is county maintained from Fall River Road to Old Stage Road. (The part of the road covered with anti-washboard chemicals) The remaining roads in the Gulch are community maintained, not county maintained. The Association grades the roads yearly, and repairs them as needed. A voluntary road fee is used to pay for this work. Roads that lead to only one or two houses are graded as needed by special request. Driveways are your responsibility.

The county snow plows York Gulch Road as far as the Old Stage juncture. It is not a high priority road, so plowing is done after higher traffic roads are finished. This means most snow plowing is done by the residents who live and drive on the roads. Each road has an informal plowing procedure. It often comes down to whoever needs to leaves first plows the road. Many of the residents work "in town", from Idaho Springs to DTC and DIA. We urge everyone to share in the plowing duties.

Regulations regarding Construction

Almost everything you do to your land is covered by some sort of county planning and zoning regulation. This starts with a driveway permit, and ends with a certificate of occupancy. The counties are by and large easy to work with, as long as you co-operate. Again, be sure your land is zoned for residential use.

There is generally a good reason for each regulation, although it may not seem so when you are just trying to build your own house. Believe it or not, our regulations are much less strict and intrusive than other nearby counties such as Jefferson or Douglas.

Some miscellaneous bits of information:
  • All our water comes from private wells. Well permits are obtained from the State of Colorado.
  • Each residence must have a septic system. Clear Creek county maintains a list of approved engineers to design, and contractors allowed to dig septic and leach fields.
  • Most of the Gulch has underground telephone lines. The lines are not very deep, so be careful when and where you dig.
  • Every county has restrictions on how land may be subdivided. Generally the claims are too small to divide, and may contain only one residence. If this is a consideration, check with the county (Gilpin or Clear Creek) where your claim is located.

Special Benefits

mountain climber
We have wonderful trails throughout the Gulch for hiking, climbing, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, bird watching, wild flower looking, or just walking the dog. Some are forest service or old mining roads. Some are game trails used by people as well. But none are known by Colorado Mountain Club.

If you feel this kind of lifestyle could be for you, again "Welcome to York Gulch". We hope you find land to love as much as we all have.

Please notice that we have no rules or covenants about size or color or style of home. That is your business, not ours. We have homes under 700 square feet, and over 4000. We have everything here from small weekend cabins, to retirement homes, to year round residences. The styles range from log to cedar to stucco to standard siding.

If you are buying in the Gulch, please come to an Association meeting and get to know us. Join the Association, and work with us to keep the Gulch a place we can all enjoy. We normally meet the third Tuesday of every odd-numbered month. The time and location are posted the week before, at the base of York Gulch Road, and on the Home Page of this Website.

Resource List

Clear Creek County Government - Switchboard 303 679-2300
   Building Dept. 303 679-2343
   Planning Dept. 303 6789-2436
   Schools 303 567-2083
   Site Development 303 679-2421
Gilpin County Government - Switchboard xxx
   Building & Zoning 303 582-5831
   Schools: 303 582-3444
State of Colorado Water Resources - well permit information 303 866-3587
State of Colorado Division of Wildlife - 303 291-7250 www.dnr.state.co.us/wildlife
U. S. Bureau of Land Management - mining claims 303 239-3790
U. S. Department of Fish and Wildlife - 303 236-7904
U. S. Forest Service - Idaho Springs office - 303 567-2901
GCCHLA - Marci Bowman
Rev. 20-Dec-01
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