Gates Ranch purchase a done deal |

Gates Ranch purchase a done deal

Kathy Heicher
Eagle Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The Gates Ranch will remain undeveloped forever.

With the help of about 60 private donors and generous grants from Eagle County and the state, the Eagle Valley Land Trust has closed the deal on a $3.4-million conservation easement for the 740-acre ranch in northern Eagle County.

“I’m happy ” but so tired,” saidCindy Cohagen, the Executive Director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust, after the deal was signed last Friday.

The conservation easement is the first in that part of the county. Eagle County contributed $2.1 million in open space funds for the easement. County open space money is raised through a property tax.

Great Outdoors Colorado, an open-space acquisition program funded through lottery revenues, granted $600,000 for the project. The land trust raised another $300,000 through private donations.

A notable donation came from Jay Precourt, a Vail resident who put a conservation easement on a 5,000-acre ranch that he owns in Grand County 20 years ago.

“It is one of the best decisions I ever made … I get great satisfaction knowing that it will be as it is today,” Precourt told the county commissioners in November, as they debated funding the easement. Precourt said that property continues its historical use as a ranch, provides a haven for wildlife, and provides a beautiful scenic backdrop, visible for miles from public roads.

Precourt offered a $100,000 challenge pledge for the Gates project, offering to donate 50 cents for every dollar donated to the land trust by private individuals. Donors started stepping up immediately at that hearing.

Among the donors was long-time valley resident Peggy Buckau, who included a note with her check.

“Thank you for all you do to save Eagle County. As a fourth-generation resident, I love every inch of it,” she wrote.

Cohagen was pleased.

“I think this truly demonstrates land conservation at its best. We can really make a difference on property that will shape the future of Derby Mesa,” she said.

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

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