Open space question coming to voters | VailDaily.com

Open space question coming to voters

EAGLE COUNTY — Voters on Nov. 8 will be presented with ballot question 1B, a measure that would extend and rework the county's open space program without raising taxes.

Currently, the open space program protects Eagle County's land and water with the roughly $4 million generated from a 1.5 mill property tax approved in 2002. Approval of ballot question 1B would continue conservation of open space, but it would divert some of the open space funds directly toward completing the Eagle Valley Trail.

The trail intends to connect Vail Pass to Dotsero with paved trails and is about 67 percent complete. At the current pace, it will take 40 years to complete the trail. However, with the approval of 1B, 20 percent of the open space budget would go toward finishing the project in about seven years.

"This is a holistic approach and a complimentary use of open space funds," said Rich Carroll, founder and board member of Vail Valley Trails Connection, one of several local groups advocating for approval of ballot question 1B.

The specific breakdown of open space funds from measure 1B would dedicate 75 percent for the protection of water quality and conservation of open space, wetlands, scenic landscapes and provide access points to rivers; 20 percent for the creation and maintenance, as well as debt service for bonds, of paved trails — mainly the Eagle Valley Trail; and 5 percent for the creation and maintenance of unpaved trails throughout Eagle County.

Approval of ballot question 1B would also extend the 1.5 mill levy to 2040 and would include improvements to soft trails — dirt trails.

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With hundreds of miles of soft trails in the county, effective trail stewardship is difficult. Measure 1B would dedicate funds toward the sustainable maintenance of current trails and may be used for the creation of new trails.

Since 2002, almost 11,000 acres have been preserved by Eagle County's open space program.

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Measure 1B

Continues to protect water quality and quantity in rivers.

Continues conserving open space that preserves wildlife habitat, wetlands and floodplains.

Continues conserving scenic landscapes and vistas.

Continues providing public access to rivers.

Enables bonding authority to complete the Eagle Valley Trail, connecting Vail Pass and Dotsero.

Dedicates a portion of the mill levy for debt service to pay bond interest without increasing taxes.

Dedicates a portion of the mill levy to creation and maintenance of unpaved trails throughout Eagle County.