Gates Ranch gets $600,000 grant |

Gates Ranch gets $600,000 grant

Melanie WongVail CO, Colorado

BURNS, COLORADO The Gates familys 740-acre ranch is $600,000 closer to being preserved as open space forever.Greater Outdoors Colorado, an organization that gives funds to projects that protect and enhance the states parks, wildlife, trails, rivers and open space, awarded $600,000 to the Eagle Valley Land Trust on Monday.The money goes toward a deal to secure a $3.4 million conservation easement, a legal tool that will ensure the Gates land will never be developed. The deal will allow George Bud Gates and his sons to continue ranching the land the family has owned for five generations.The organization gives out $53 million from Lottery funds each year.The Gates Ranch is home to wildlife, it is a working ranch and the deal is a good opportunity for an open space purchase, said Greater Outdoors of Colorado Director John Swartout.This is on the Colorado River Road, and with those properties we are still able to do conservation, he said. This an opportunity to get ahead of the curve.Other properties closer to highways or more developed areas can be too expensive to purchase for conservation, Swartout said.Eagle County also contributed $2.1 million from open space funds toward the purchase, and Gates family contributed $400,000.That was another reason the money was awarded, Swartout said. The fact that the county contributed money was important. We like to be in partnership with other folks, he said. The other $300,000 for the purchase will be raised from the community and individual donors, said Eagle Valley Land Trust President Cindy Cohagen.-This gets us well on our way (to completing the purchase), Cohagen said.Vail resident Jay Precourt has offered to match half of any individual donations that are made toward the ranch deal. Several people have already contributed several thousand dollars, Cohagen said.The Eagle Valley Land Trust hopes to complete the purchase by the end of the year, she said.

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