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Conservation wish list

Sarah L. Stewart
Kristin AndersonA bike rider cruises down the recreation path next to U.S. Highway 6 near Eagle-Vail. Many Vail Valley residents have put away their skis for the winter and brought out their bikes to take advantage of the warmer weather.
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Eagle County What parts of Eagle County would you most like to see undeveloped? Local residents are getting a say in where the Eagle Valley Land Trust should focus its preservation efforts in a series of meetings throughout the county.At a recent meeting in Edwards, residents chose spaces from Lake Creek to the 105-acre property owned by B&B Excavating Co. in Edwards.You can watch a lot of cattle, elk and other animals grazing there, said Brett Ranch resident Wendy Stanley of the B&B land. Also, the birds are returning there now. Its really quite beautiful.The Land Trust, which has protected almost 10,000 acres in Eagle County through conservation easements and land buys, also hopes to use the meetings to raise awareness about the need for open space in the county.Open space is the sizzle that sells the steak. Its what draws people here, said the trusts president, Cindy Cohagen.

Eagle County The county got a little greener last week, and it wasnt just the bursts of new growth popping out on trees.Last week, commissioners voted in favor of powering all the countys main buildings with wind power, costing the county an additional $78,000 each year. However, the county plans to trim its energy use in the coming months by using energy-efficient light bulbs and getting new boilers, Public Works Manager Tom Johnson said.These efforts will cut down the countys energy use by about 20 percent, helping to offset the cost of the wind power, commissioners said.Wind power adds to other green measures the county has taken, including the purchase of hybrid vehicles. Overall the county is coming out ahead on energy costs, especially if you factor in fuel and all that, said Communications Director Justin Finestone. Its all helping to reduce our carbon footprint.

Vail Proposals for alpine thrill rides at Vail and Beaver Creek have been stopped in their tracks.A coalition of Beaver Creek homeowners associations has challenged the countys approval of the planned alpine slide at the Haymeadow base area in a lawsuit that says Vail Resorts has no right to build the slide.A year-round alpine coaster at Eagles Nest in Vail, which would have steel rails carrying two-person sleds on a 3,000-foot-long track, is stalled in the Forest Services approval process.Colorado Wild, an environmental nonprofit, said the Vail coaster would create urban-type recreation that doesnt benefit the public. But the trade group Colorado Ski Country USA supported the proposal.The alpine coaster will appeal to a broader, youthful population and get more kids in the woods, the group wrote.As for the Beaver Creek slide, Vail Resorts is looking at some alternative locations, said Bryan Treu, county attorney.

Vail It might be the chinchilla fur coat of bus stops.The price tag for a new bus station in Lionshead has climbed to as high as $19 million, and Vail is looking to the county, state and federal governments for help.The high end seems a little high, but transit centers are expensive, said Vail Councilman Farrow Hitt.The bus hub would be part of the 120-bed worker housing complex that Vail Resorts plans to build on the North Day Lot in Lionshead, which was part of the agreement when it built the Arrabelle at Vail Square.The town has agreed to pay for a transit center as part of the affordable housing project, at a cost of $15 million to $19 million, Town Manager Stan Zemier said.As of last November, the town budgeted $7 million for the Lionshead transit station. It has asked for $3 million from Eagle County for the station, which would shelter county ECO buses. It also seeks money in state and federal transportation funding.Most of the money, $12 million, would come from Lionshead tax-increment financing bonds.

Arrowhead Free skier parking could become even harder to find if a new Vail Resorts condominium project goes as planned.The 80-unit complex on the site of the Arrowhead parking lot could mean a new pool and other amenities for Arrowhead residents, but would replace 260 free parking spaces with an underground pay-parking lot.Weve been working very closely with the community to find out what they would like to see there, said Michael Brekka, vice-president of Vail Resorts Development. Were very enthusiastic about the project.The company hopes to break ground on the project some time next year, despite mixed reactions from homeowners. Were still working through the benefits and concerns for (residents and Vail Resorts), said Teri LeBeau, president of Arrowheads homeowners association. We just hope we can come to some agreement that will bring benefit to the community.

Wolcott The question of what will happen to Wolcott could have an answer.Local developer Rick Hermes, owner of Hermes Resort Properties, has entered into an agreement to develop 2,600 acres into a master-planned community for locals. Hermes said this week that he signed a contract with the Jouflas family, which owns a lot of the private land around Wolcott, with the purpose of creating a community for all levels of local housing needs.Were working with the county and just getting started on the planning process, Hermes said. We want this to be locals-oriented, historically referenced and appropriately scaled.


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