Pitkin County Open Space and Trails and its partner, Eagle County Open Space, on Monday, Jan. 6, finalized the purchase of 137 acres of prime agricultural land in the Emma area.
The two counties have jointly purchased the historic Fred L. and Freda L. Glassier Ranch for $5.9 million; Great Outdoors Colorado recently announced a $1 million grant toward the acquisition. The land is bordered by the 145-acre Red Ridge Ranch Open Space, acquired by Pitkin and Eagle counties a year ago in partnership with the Town of Basalt, GOCO and the Mid-Valley Trails Committee, as well as the 70-acre Emma Farms conservation easement, held by Aspen Valley Land Trust.
The Glassier and Red Ridge properties extend from land initially homesteaded by Frederick H. Glassier in the late 1800s. The two open space properties together represent some 282 acres reaching from the Roaring Fork River up to about 8,000 feet on the slopes of the Crown, including about 140 irrigated acres. In addition, the Glassier Ranch comes with significant water rights in the Home Supply Ditch and about 500 feet of Roaring Fork River frontage.
The combined properties are located in Eagle County, and Monday’s closing took place in Eagle. Red Ridge Ranch borders Bureau of Land Management property on the Crown – 9,600 federal acres situated at the juncture of Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties that see both recreational and ranching uses, and provide wildlife habitat. Farming was long the focus of the historic Glassier lands on the valley floor, where the Rio Grande Trail now runs alongside both the Glassier and Red Ridge properties.
Fred L. Glassier was among the second generation of Glassiers to ranch along the base of the Crown. He and his wife, Freda, worked hard to run a successful operation, growing potatoes and other crops and raising cattle, recalled their daughter, Joyce Glassier Smink, at Monday’s closing.
“Mom and Daddy would be very happy that it will stay the Fred L. and Freda L. Glassier Ranch,” she said.
“My grandparents would be grateful that it’s being preserved for ranching and farming purposes,” added Tracey Smink Vangolen, Joyce’s daughter.
“Glassier Ranch is now preserved and it’s wonderful,” said Temple Glassier on Tuesday. She is the daughter of Fred J. Glassier, son of Fred L. and Freda.
“This is some of the most fertile land in the Roaring Fork Valley and we see these open spaces as key to encouraging local food production on what remains of our historic agricultural lands,” said Dale Will, director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. “We’re excited to see what ideas come forward as we begin seeking input on a management plan for the two properties.”
Both properties will be closed to public access while the planning is under way, he said.
Agricultural pursuits, recreation and wildlife habitat protection will be considered as the management plan is drafted. In addition to farmland that once made the midvalley a significant potato-producing region, the Fred L. and Freda L. Glassier Ranch also comes with an historic, Victorian home and associated outbuildings that will be a discussion point during the management plan process.
Anyone who is interested in participating in the planning for the Glassier and Red Ridge properties should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-920-5232. Pitkin County will own and manage the newly acquired property; Eagle County holds a conservation easement on it.