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December 19, 2012
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A property in Minturn known as the "Boneyard" is on the auction block and Eagle County is partnering with the town of Minturn on a bid.

The 4.39-acre parcel is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, which set the minimum bid at $1.25 million. The property is surrounded by Forest Service land, the Eagle River and U.S. Highway 24.

"This is a project that's near and dear to the hearts of Minturn," said Eagle County Open Space Director Toby Sprunk. "It would be used for fishing and as a put-in for kayaks, that sort of stuff. There is also one storage building on the site the town would use."

Most of the funding would come from the county open space fund and Minturn would chip in $150,000 if the bid is successful. Sprunk wouldn't say how much he is currently authorized to bid.

"Announcing it to the newspaper at this point would put us at a competitive disadvantage," he said. "Right now we're the only bid, so we're sticking with the starting offer. We'll see what happens by Jan. 8 and go from there."

The auction is completely online at It's something Sprunk isn't used to when it comes to property deals.

"It's like eBay and is unlike anything I've ever done," he said. "Another tricky thing about it is that the Forest Service has a reserve price in mind - no one knows what it is, it's not written down, but if the bids don't meet the reserve price, the Forest Service will keep the property. I believe they have the option of changing the reserve price, too."

The open space money being used for the bid was scheduled for approval on Tuesday's Eagle County Consent Agenda but the agenda item was pulled when no other bids had been made.

"We'll definitely be talking more about it around Jan. 8," Sprunk said.

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Residents and visitors in Eagle County will soon have more places to get their feet wet in the Colorado River thanks to the county's acquisition of two new properties, part of a larger effort to increase river recreation and conservation. Eagle County Open Space partnered with The Conservation Fund on the Upper Colorado River Conservation and Recreation Project, which received a $3.9 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) in June.

Working with The Conservation Fund, Eagle County purchased a conservation easement on the 1,000-acre Colorado River Ranch, a working ranch that straddles the upper Colorado River 12 miles north of Dotsero. The easement allows the county to construct a boat launch and provides public access to the historic school house. The Colorado River Ranch contains two miles of river frontage, wildlife habitat and scenic views.

Additionally, the county has purchased the 230-acre Red Dirt Creek parcel upstream of the Colorado River Ranch and plans to use the property for primitive camping and added public river access. Both properties are protected by conservation easements held by Colorado Open Lands, a statewide nonprofit land trust. Closings on both projects occurred last week.

Combined, these two acquisitions permanently protect 3.7 miles of Colorado River frontage, as well as an important wildlife movement corridor between the Flat Tops Wilderness and the Bull Gulch Wilderness Study Area. Eagle County will utilize dedicated Open Space Funds for public access improvements on both properties in 2013.

The Upper Colorado River Conservation and Recreation Project is one of eight projects awarded $29.5 million in lottery grants by the GOCO Board in June as part of the organization's River Corridor Initiative. GOCO developed the initiative to provide close-to-home recreation opportunities for Coloradans to get outdoors and experience the state's waterways.

GOCO is the result of a citizens' initiative passed by the voters in 1992. As the recipient of approximately half of Colorado Lottery proceeds - $57 million in fiscal year 2012 - GOCO awards grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. Since 1994, nearly 3,500 projects in all 64 counties have received GOCO funding. Eagle County projects have received $14.9 million in GOCO grants.

For more information on the Eagle County Open Space program, contact Toby Sprunk at 970-328-8698 or visit

- Staff report

To aid in the restoration of wild landscapes on the Western Slope, Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently completed construction of a specialized warehouse where seeds of native plants will be stored and distributed.

Located at the Escalante State Wildlife Area west of Delta, the $1.2 million, 9,000 square-foot facility will play a critical role in wildlife habitat conservation far into the future. The money was appropriated by the Colorado General Assembly through the Species Conservation Trust Fund. -

Using native plants that are suited to Colorado's landscape and climate is critical for properly restoring areas that have been disturbed by forest fire, resource development, grazing or other activities. -----

"This warehouse will help us to provide locally adapted plant varieties, or currently unavailable plant varieties to Western Slope land managers who are conducting habitat improvement or restoration projects," said Jim Garner, terrestrial habitat coordinator in Montrose for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The facility will also provide significant cost savings for reclamation efforts. While some native seed is available it can be very expensive, sometimes $100 or more per pound. Prices also fluctuate significantly from year to year depending on demand. The warehouse allows Colorado Parks and Wildlife to buy large quantities of seeds when prices are low so they can be stored in the climate-controlled conditions for future use.

"That will be a huge benefit to our work because we'll have a steady supply of material on hand," Garner explained. "And in a few years we'll have established a large-scale seed bank."

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will also store seed for other agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. ------

As much as possible, seeds will be collected throughout the Western Slope from plants on the landscape. In addition, the agency will use specialty growers that are able to produce large quantities of seeds. Some of the types of seeds to be collected include: sagebrush, dusty penstemon, sulphur flower buckwheat, squirrel tail and a variety of shrubs, grasses and forbs.

"It's always best to plant seeds that were taken from the local area. Plants evolve characteristics that make them best suited to particular soil, moisture and light conditions," Garner said.

The idea to set up a seed warehouse started with the Uncompahgre Plateau Project, a collaboration of federal and state agencies, utility companies and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Located west of Montrose, the 1.2 million-acre expanse is rich in timber and wildlife habitat, and is open to many other forest uses. It's used for livestock grazing and major power lines cross the area. The project organizers established a native plant program to help restore disturbed areas and to provide food sources for wildlife. Since 2002, the program has placed 16 native plants into production and thousands of pounds of seed are being harvest annually.

"The warehouse is an important milestone. This facility is a far-sighted investment for wildlife habitat on Colorado's Western Slope," Garner said.

- Staff report

Eagle County Paramedic Services (ECPS) is the new name for the ambulance service serving Eagle County. This name change reflects the continuing process of merging the county's two ambulance districts, Eagle County Ambulance District (ECAD) and Western Eagle County Ambulance District (WECAD).

"The new identity of Eagle County Paramedic Services marks an exciting milestone in our efforts to enhance a superior standard of care throughout Eagle County," said Fred Morrison, General Manager of Eagle County Paramedic Services. "Our new name and new logo reflect the official start of an effort we feel is the right thing to do, both operationally and financially."

ECPS is the result of a merger between ECAD and WECAD, which takes effect early next year. ECPS plans to have administrative systems from the two districts merged by Jan. 1 with operations gradually merging during the next several months.

Prior to the formation of Eagle County Paramedic Services, ECAD provided service from Wolcott to the eastern boundary of Eagle County while WECAD covered the remaining western portion of the county. ECPS will now provide service to all of Eagle County.

Although the merger of administration and operations is occurring now, an inclusion election will need to be held in May or June. Shortly after the results are ratified, Eagle County District Court will order the final merger. The boards of directors will then be consolidated and the process should be complete by mid-July.

The districts' consolidation into Eagle County Paramedic Services is also expected to create more financial stability and efficiency for emergency medical services in Eagle County. Currently, WECAD is funded with a 5 mills levy. Upon completion of the merger, that will drop to 2 mills in 2014 or 2015. ECAD is currently funded with a 2 mills levy.

- Staff report

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The VailDaily Updated Dec 19, 2012 01:05PM Published Dec 19, 2012 01:03PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.