Vail Daily letter: Help protect the wide-open spaces | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Help protect the wide-open spaces

Special to the Daily Eagle County is poised to purchase the Hardscrabble Ranch outside the town of Eagle. The ranch will be under a conservation easement through the Eagle Valley Land Trust and will include hiking and biking trails, some picnic areas and some fishing access.

When my wife and I moved to Eagle County from the Los Angeles area, people frequently asked us why we moved here. Our simple answer was to escape the traffic and breathe fresh air. That was the simple answer, but there was more to it than that. It was also skiing, hiking, fishing, wide-open spaces, small-town atmosphere, friendly people, Western heritage and the ranching culture that was a part of the area.

Now, 22 years later, we are still pleased with our move, but we are concerned that some of the characteristics of a ranching community are beginning to slip away. Places that we thought of as scenic open spaces have sprouted houses, and the wide-open spaces are not quite so wide-open anymore. Ranching is not economical anymore, and development is much more profitable. We know we need development to keep a growing and healthy economy, but every once in a while, we need to look at saving some of the ranching heritage that has marked the character of this area before heavy recreational activities became the economic driver.

The 1,540-acre Hardscrabble Ranch just outside of Eagle is one of those areas that deserves to be saved as a ranch and scenic buffer that offers public access opportunities and preserves ranching heritage. Eagle Valley Land Trust recognizes the importance of this transaction and is endeavoring to raise $500,000 to aid in Eagle County's purchase of the land. The Land Trust Board has committed to a matching grant of as much as $100,000 to match dollar for dollar any funds that you contribute. We have until July 31 to raise funds. We're nearly halfway there, and your support can make the goal possible.

Contributors to Hardscrabble Ranch will receive a Deed of Acknowledgement (not an actual property deed) from the Land Trust indicating your contribution has gone toward preserving a specific amount of land at Hardscrabble Ranch. This is your opportunity to help Our Valley, Our Heritage. Visit http://www.evlt.org/ourvalley and show your support for protecting our outdoor environment and ranching heritage.

Tom Edwards

Gypsum

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