Panel recommends no funding for Berry Creek lot
By Veronica Whitney
Daily Staff Writer
If they want money from Eagle County’s new open space program, county commissioners first will have to put 50 acres of land at Berry Creek under an open space preservation program, members of the Open Space Advisory Committee said.
The committee has recommended not using open space taxes to maintain 50 acres next to the Miller Ranch Road bridge in Edwards. The Board of County Commissioners had requested $2,500 a year to be used mostly for weed control on the land, part of the Berry Creek project.
“The committee decided this project wasn’t appropriate for the open space tax money since there’s no guarantee this will always be open space,” said Ron Wolfe, the committee chairman. The parcel is currently zoned as open space, but that could change.
“We hope the county commissioners will deny the funding,” Wolfe added. “I believe the public would be upset if the commissioners should decide to allocate the funds. It’s a small amount of money that the county can afford. It’s foolish to take the money out of our open space funds. If Craig Bair can afford to maintain 4,800 acres, the county can afford to maintain 50 acres.”
The committee, which voted unanimously on this issue, renders only a recommendation to the commissioners on how to spend the open space tax passed by voters in 2002 that will generate $3 million a year. The commissioners will have a final say on the request on May 11, when they review the file.
“We suggested the commissioners to place a conservation easement on the property and then we would consider the request again,” Wolfe said. “The only way this becomes permanent open space is if the county puts a conservation easement on it.”
Cliff Simonton, in charge of the county’s open space program said that aside from a conservation easement there’s a variety of ways to guarantee that a property stays as open space forever.
Open space committee member Gil Marchand said he wouldn’t have a problem funding the maintenance of the property in the future if it was preserved in perpetuity.
“It’s a gorgeous piece of land in the middle of a very developed area,” Marchand said.
For several years the county and the Arrowhead Metro District has been discussing how to preserve this land as open space, Marchand said.
County Commissioner Tom Stone said the county’s intent is to permanently preserve the property.
“I’m sorry if that wasn’t presented to them,” he said. Stone declined further comment, saying it would be inappropriate to talk about the file before May 11. “I will have all these discussions when we get the file.”
In its first decision on a project, the open space committee recommended contributing $2 million from open space tax to the preservation of the Bair Ranch at the entrance of Glenwood Canyon. The Conservation Fund of Boulder is working to put a $5 million conservation easement that would preserve 4,800 of the ranch owned by Craig and LeGrande Bair. The easement, a legal tool, will preserve the land as open space forever.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.