Letters: The facts about Eagle County open space buys
Vail CO, Colorado
Open space success
The manner in which Eagle County’s Open Space fund is spent is frequently misrepresented by comments in the local newspaper. Those comments often do not have a factual basis.
It is important to read the ballot language that approved the tax in 2004, as it specifically described to the voter the purpose of the open space fund. Listed in order, that purpose includes: “preserving wildlife habitat, protecting working farms and ranches, conserving scenic landscapes and vistas, protecting wetlands and floodplains, and providing public access points to rivers and streams.” To these ends the program to date has been very successful.
The Bair Ranch Project preserved thousands of acres of prime wildlife habitat, and the money spent was only for land in Eagle County. The McNulty Ranch, the Grange Ranch, the Gates Ranch and the Eagle River Preserve, all open- space projects, all contain valuable wildlife habitat. Ranching and farming activities will continue on the Bair Ranch, the McNulty Ranch, the Grange Ranch and the Gates Ranch. Most of the properties conserved are very visible from public roadways, contributing significantly to the quality of local landscapes and views. Virtually all properties conserved to date contain wetlands and/or floodplains, which will now be preserved.
Regarding access to streams and rivers, the Bair Ranch purchase opened over a mile of the southern shore of the Colorado River in the Dotsero area to the public. The Grange Ranch purchase now provides public access to the Roaring Fork River near Basalt, and the Eagle River Preserve will provide access to a significant portion of the Eagle River downstream from Edwards.
Finally, a consistent theme of misinformation seems to be the lack of public access onto and across ranches that have been preserved by conservation easements. You’ll note that while the voter-approved ballot language lists protecting working farms and ranches as a priority, it specifically does not list public access to these lands as a priority.
When the Citizen’s Open Space Advisory Committee and the Board of County Commissioners review and vote on open space purchases, they have the voter-approved ballot language in mind. If you listen to their comments, they truly are forward thinking, and take into account a larger view.
Lisa de Graaf
Open Space Coordinator
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