Daily Editorial: Fair deal for open range | VailDaily.com

Daily Editorial: Fair deal for open range

Vail Daily Editorial Board

It’s hard to find a more old-time Eagle County ranching family than the Gates.

Five generations of them have raised cattle on their ranch near Burns. They homesteaded the place in 1893.

The patriarch of the family, Bud Gates, 78, served not so long ago on the county Board of Commissioners. His sons Kip and Doug plan to continue the legacy, as Kip puts it, ranching in the “cowboy way.”

Now they would like to preserve their 740-acre spread by selling the development rights for $3.65 million.

The Eagle County Land Trust is at work raising funds, including $2.5 million from the Eagle County Open Space Fund. That account is funded by an open space tax voters approved in 2002.

If all goes well, the Land Trust will be able to buy those development rights and place a conservation easement on the property to preserve it for ranching and keep development off in perpetuity.

The plan is a compromise used often in places like Routt County to keep ranchland open and ranch families in the lifestyle they love. Stephen Covey fans will call that a win-win, and that’s exactly what it is.

Another ranch family, the Bairs, endured a lot of criticism when they pioneered the concept with county funding a few years ago. Their ranch straddles Eagle and Garfield counties in and above Glenwood Canyon, leaving a perception among some that we were spending on Garfield County even though that’s not true.

More irksome to critics was that the ranch remained a working ranch and not a park open for picnics and hikes and such.

That open space is not necessarily park space is a hard concept for some, though we don’t see why that should be so.

It’s a fair deal, really, selling the rights to development to keep more of Colorado’s range open.

” Don Rogers for the Editorial Board

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