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County to add more river frontage to open space

Another half mile of river frontage along the Colorado is set to be added to the county's open space portfolio. The county commissioners Tuesday approved $320,000 for 34 acres near Burns.

Another half mile of Colorado River frontage is set to be added to the county’s open space portfolio.

The Colorado River Retreat is 34 acres total and runs along .42 miles of Colorado River frontage along both sides of the river. In certain government agencies, that’d be .84 miles of river frontage, depending on whether optimists or pragmatists are doing the math.

The Board of Commissioners approved $320,000 Tuesday to buy it, and that teed it up for final action by the county commissioners during next week’s meeting.

The property appraised for $340,000, said Toby Sprunk, Eagle County’s open space coordinator.

Old Kentucky home

A Kentucky couple, Spencer and Susan Depree, bought the land in the 1990s as a hunting and fishing retreat, hence the name, “Colorado River Retreat.”

They decided they wanted to sell it and their real estate broker contacted Sprunk last summer.

Sprunk brought the idea to the county’s open space committee, and after some consideration the committee voted unanimously in its Monday’s meeting to recommend buying it.

“The more we looked at it the more we liked it,” Sprunk said.

Sprunk said the wildlife habitat is phenomenal, pointing out that preserving wildlife habitat is part of the open space package.

“That’s one of the reasons it caught our attention,” he said.

It’s also pretty good human habitat.

You can stop there and fish from the bank, but they probably won’t create a road, Sprunk said.

There’s a small cabin along the river that could make a nice respite, especially for boaters on a multi-day float trip, Sprunk said.

There’s no heat or any other kinds of amenities or facilities, but the front porch makes a dandy place to relax and watch the river roll by.

“If you sit on the porch it’s a thing of wonder,” Sprunk said.

So far, the open space committee is reluctant to bulldoze the cabin. They may make it available to boaters or fishermen who want to spend the night there. How, exactly they might do that remains to be determined, Sprunk said. It could be something along the lines of the 10th Mountain Division huts.

“There are all kinds of unanswered questions, but if you were floating and doing a multi-day trip, that cabin would be a sight for sore eyes,” Sprunk said.

Voter approved tax

The Open Space committee asked for $310,000 to buy the parcel, and threw in a little cushion for costs that might pop up.

Technically it’s their money anyway.

In 2002, Eagle County voters narrowly approved a ballot question establishing the county’s open space program.

The property tax can raise up to $7 million annually through 2025, when it sunsets.

That 2002 ballot initiative and the resolution unanimously approved by then-commissioners Tom Stone, Arn Menconi and Michael Gallagher required final approval by the Board of Commissioners for open space purchases.

For the Colorado River Retreat, that approval is expected to come next Tuesday.

A couple Colorado family foundations might also contribute to the project, which would lower the cost to the county’s taxpayers, Sprunk said.

Open space purchases

The Open Space committee has been busy the last few years.

Along with four boat launches along the Colorado River — Two Bridges in Bond and one each in State Bridge, Dotsero, and the Colorado River Ranch that opened last September — other purchases include the Horn Ranch between Eagle and Wolcott, and the Glassier Ranch and Salton Stall ranch in the Basalt/El Jebel area.

Other recent open space purchases line up like this:

• 2012, Homestead L: 162 acres, $3.25 million.

• 2012, Duck Pond, 50 acres, $725,000.

• 2012, Colorado River Ranch, 1,017 acres, $3 million.

• 2011, Brush Creek Confluence, 4.5 acres, $905,000.

• 2011, Dotsero Landing, 8.5 acres, $650,000.

• 2011, State Bridge Landing, 10 acres, $1.4 million.

• 2011, Two Bridge Boat Launch, 560 acres, $690,000.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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