Hardscrabble Ranch open space effort gets $3.1 million GOCO grant | VailDaily.com

Hardscrabble Ranch open space effort gets $3.1 million GOCO grant

Great Outdoors Colorado gave local open space advocates a $3.1 million grant toward the purchase of the 1,540-acre Hardscrabble Ranch south of Eagle. Open space advocates still need as much as $2.6 million.
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Hardscrabble Ranch Open Space

$15.5 million: Purchase price

To buy it

$9 million: From the county’s open space fund, which will drain it completely

$3.1 million: Great Outdoors Colorado grant

$600,000: Town of Eagle grant

$700,000: Eagle Ranch Wildlife Committee

$2.6 million: Money still needed

Source: Eagle County Open Space Department

EAGLE — A huge piece of a complicated open space puzzle fell into place late Thursday.

Eagle County’s open space department landed a $3.1 million Great Outdoors Colorado grant to help purchase the 1,540-acre Hardscrabble Ranch south of Eagle.

“It’s a big moment, a big hurdle in a big deal. If we hadn’t gotten the GOCO grant, it’s possible that the deal would have fallen apart,” said Toby Sprunk, Eagle County’s open space coordinator.

They still need to raise as much as $2.6 million to cover the $15.5 million purchase price of the ranch, plus any loan interest, Sprunk said, which could involve as many as 15 other funding partners.

Still, Sprunk and other open space advocates around Eagle County were doing the happy dance Thursday.

“Long ago, I’ve learned to believe in miracles in this business,” Sprunk said, smiling.

It wasn’t a complete surprise. Sprunk said he received a call last Thursday with the welcome news that the GOCO staff was recommending that the GOCO board help fund the Hardscrabble Ranch purchase.

The GOCO board unanimously agreed during its Thursday meeting.

This was the only project funded during this round of grants. The only competition in this GOCO funding cycle was a project in the San Luis Valley, Sprunk said.

“The stars have to align for projects like this,” Sprunk said.

The Hardscrabble Ranch open space will culminate a 30-year conservation effort in the Brush Creek Valley, including the 1999 addition of 1,782 acres along East and West Brush Creek to Sylvan Lake State Park, also partially funded by Great Outdoors Colorado.

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