Five years after purchase, Minturn Boneyard deal nears completion | VailDaily.com

Five years after purchase, Minturn Boneyard deal nears completion

EAGLE — Five years ago, the U.S. Forest Service conveyed its Boneyard property to the town of Minturn in a $2.3 million deal.

This week, Eagle County approved up to $15,000, to finalize the conservation easement that will permanently protect the 4.39-acre site.

That's proof of what officials mean when they say that open space deals take time.

Eagle County Open Space Director Diane Mauriello presented the funding request to the Eagle County commissioners this week. She said the parties involved with the Boneyard open space purchase — Eagle County, Great Outdoors Colorado, the town of Minturn and the Eagle Valley Land Trust — have wanted to complete the deal, but with the passage of time and the expense of finalizing a conservation easement, focus shifted to other matters. Ultimately, the land trust applied for a transaction cost grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, which awarded $33,399 to finalize the easement.

Mauriello noted that total cost for the transaction — which includes legal fees, title insurance, a mineral remoteness report and a stewardship/endowment fund — will tally nearly $68,000. Along with the GOCO grant, Minturn has earmarked $20,000 for the effort and will pay its own legal fees.

"We are hoping we can get this over the finish line for as little as $8,000," Mauriello said.

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Open space committee support

In July, the Eagle County Open Space Advisory Committee recommended the expenditure to "help close the gap and finalize this transaction." Along with an up to $15,000 stipulation, the county funding will be applied after the grant and town funds are allocated.

Minturn Mayor Matt Scherr advocated for the funding during this week's county commissioner meeting. He spoke about the importance of the Boneyard purchase.

"What we are lacking in town is for our citizens to access what we consider to be the crown jewel of our community — the Eagle River," Scherr said.

The Boneyard property provides that vital link, Scherr said.

"This is just the beginning of this project and what it can become," he said.

Jim Daus, of the Eagle Valley Land Trust, emphasized the importance of completing the conservation easement for the property, noting that the process can be a bit cumbersome because of its reach. For example, part of the deal has to provide permanent funding for land stewardship.

"Land trusts are not like other nonprofits. What we do has to last forever," Daus said.

He complimented the town of Minturn, which has limited resources, for digging deep to come up with $20,000 to finalize the easement in addition to contributions from the other project partners.

"This has been a great team effort many years in the making. That's sometimes what these projects take," Daus concluded.