Ben Brownlee
Memorial Fund

Benefitting Hinsdale County Search & Rescue, Lake San Cristobal Peninsula Park and other First Responders

$183,900 collected as of October 28th, 2021



Make a donation by mail


To avoid PayPal fees being
deducted from your donation,
please mail a check to:

Lake Fork Community Foundation
Memo: Ben Brownlee Memorial Fund


Mail To:
Lake Fork Community Foundation
PO Box 322
Lake City, CO 81235




By Credit Card:

To make a donation by credit
card click the "Donate Now"
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Memorial Fund" in the
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Ben Brownlee was a passionate hiker and outdoorsman who died in a climbing accident on October 3, 2020 in the remote San Juan mountains of Hinsdale County near the town of Lake City, Colorado.


Purpose of Memorial Fund

Ben’s Memorial Fund has been set up for two purposes, both focused on benefitting the Hinsdale County community and visitors to the area.

• First, to equip and train the all-volunteer Hinsdale County Search & Rescue Team and needs of other first responders. To date, over $55,000 in equipment and training has been funded as described below.

• Second, to assist with the acquisition and improvements to the new Peninsula Park at Lake San Cristobal which was acquired by Hinsdale County and closed on December 22, 2020. This Park preserves a scenic, 10.3-acre parcel previously planned for residential use, as a permanent and accessible public open space on Lake San Cristobal near the area where Ben was hiking when he died. A small memorial is planned on this site. Now that the Park has been acquired, Ben’s Fund is assisting with improvements to enhance hiking, boating and fishing access for residents and visitors to Hinsdale County. To date, over $42,000 has been funded towards the Park as described below.



Donations through Lake Fork Community Foundation

All donations are being accepted through The Lake Fork Community Foundation (LFCF) for the benefit of the Ben Brownlee Memorial Fund and will be awarded as grants in accordance with LFCF’s and the Fund’s guidelines. LFCF is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation. All contributions are tax deductible. Donations can be made using LFCF’s Pay Pal link or mailed to LFCF in Lake City, Colorado. www.lakeforkcf.org

The Why? behind the Fund

Despite their incredible efforts during the search for Ben, it became apparent to our friends & family that the many individuals who were giving their time to the all-volunteer Search & Rescue (SAR) effort lacked many of the basic communication, safety devices and search tools needed to effectively execute the task. Hinsdale County is often referred to as the most remote location in the lower 48 states and is over 96% federal land. While that adds to the area’s rugged beauty, it also equates to a very low tax base created by the less than 1,000 residents and businesses. SAR efforts most often serve non-residents, there to enjoy the beautiful mountains & rivers in the area, and the County does not have adequate funds to properly equip and train the all-volunteer team.

Further, as we became aware of the community’s desire to acquire the proposed Peninsula Park at Lake San Cristobal as a permanent public open space, we wanted to contribute towards the acquisition of the land which was completed on December 22, 2020 and to assist with improvements to enhance public access and enjoyment of this truly unique site.

Your Contributions at Work in the Community

Search & Rescue
Ben’s Fund, as overseen by the Lake Fork Community Foundation Board, has thus far awarded three grants in excess of $55,000 benefitting the Hinsdale County Search and Rescue Team. These grants have been targeted to address four areas of need: Avalanche Rescue; High Angle Rescue; Swift Water Rescue and Backcountry Communications. Equipment & training courses purchased to date include: avalanche protection airbag packs; avalanche beacons, avalanche probes, shovels; rope & associated hardware; swift water rescue boat & gear; swift water dry suits; Iridium satellite phones; long-range roof mount antennae; inReach communication devices; communication subscription fees; Avalanche Training; and Swift Water Training courses. We continue to work closely with Hinsdale County Search & Rescue leaders to identify & prioritize their on-going needs with a goal of providing best-in-class SAR Equipment & Training for the all-volunteer team.





Park Acquisition
On December 22, 2020 Ben’s Fund contributed $36,150 (earmarked by donors) towards the acquisition of the new, 10.3 acre, Lake San Cristobal Peninsula Park that was purchased by Hinsdale County in partnership with the Trust for Public Land (tpl.org) using a $1.3 Million GoCo grant (GoCo.org) and $218,000 of donations from the community. Lake San Cristobal is the second largest natural lake in Colorado and the namesake of Lake City. Overview of the site



Park Planning & Improvements
With the acquisition complete, the County has retained DHM Design and Springboard Preservation Studio to masterplan the site. The public input and priorities development phase is underway and the most current plan which was completed in September 2021 is shown below. Ben’s Fund provided $5,900 to pay for the topographic survey needed to advance this process. The plan for improvements and any needed phasing is taking shape and is expected to include hiking & fishing opportunities along with motorized & non-motorized boat access. Additional information about the site acquisition and fundraising can be found at lakesancristobal.com



Additional Funding Needs
The preliminary budget estimates the contemplated improvements will cost in excess of $1.3 Million. Hinsdale County, led by Commissioner Borchers, has been aggressively pursuing grants (such as the GoCo grant that funded 90% of the Park’s acquisition cost) and was recently awarded $150,000 from Colorado Parks & Wildlife through its’ Fishing is Fun! program; $25,000 from the Gates Family Foundation; and $15,000 from El Pomar Foundation. Ben’s Fund, through the Lake Fork Community Foundation, continues to support the Park’s infrastructure needs (with both existing and to-be-raised contributions) in addition to the on-going needs of Search & Rescue. Note that all contributions are tax deductible and are distributed through the Lake Fork Community Foundation through a grant request process as specific needs are identified.

About Ben Brownlee



Ben grew up in Dallas, Texas, graduated from Dallas Jesuit High School, studied business & ran track at the University of Kansas, before moving to Denver in 2016. By 2020, Ben was a twenty-six year old commercial real estate broker with Transwestern in Denver; a volunteer track and cross country coach at Regis Jesuit High School; and a newly-minted trip leader for the Colorado Mountain Club. He loved being outdoors and he had a smile and encouraging word for everyone. Having climbed all fifty-eight of Colorado’s 14’ers in his first two years in Colorado, he set a new goal to climb all the Centennial and Bi-Centennial Peaks which is what brought him to Hinsdale County with a plan to summit twelve 13’ers over the weekend. When Ben did not return on Sunday as planned, we immediately began a Search & Rescue attempt through the Sheriff’s Department aided by numerous volunteers in the community as well as friends and family that came to his aid. Regrettably, Ben had fallen attempting a Class 5 traverse along his planned route and did not survive. After a two-day search, he was spotted by helicopter and the rescue attempt turned to recovery. The motto from Dallas Jesuit High School is “Men for Others” and Ben exemplified that. Ben would have been honored to know that this Memorial Fund is being used to help people helping others.

Contact Us

Email

Learn more about Ben

Ben’s Memorial Service on November 7, 2020

Thank you to the Hinsdale County Search & Rescue Team

Thank you to the Hinsdale County Search & Rescue Team

A man for others - kansan.com

KU Mourns the Loss of Jayhawk Ben Brownlee - kuathletics.com

Regis Jesuit In Memoriam

14er's.com

Full list of Ben's climbing achievments - peakbagger.com

$183,900 collected as of October 28th, 2021



Make a donation by mail


To avoid PayPal fees being
deducted from your donation,
please mail a check to:

Lake Fork Community Foundation
Memo: Ben Brownlee Memorial Fund


Mail To:
Lake Fork Community Foundation
PO Box 322
Lake City, CO 81235




By Credit Card:

To make a donation by credit
card click the "Donate Now"
and select "Ben Brownlee
Memorial Fund" in the
"Use this donation
for" dropdown box