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Pitkin County moves to buy mining claims on Aspen Mountain

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Aspen Times photoExploring the Cooper mining claims during a site visit to the back of Aspen Mountain are, from left, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board members Tim McFlynn and Anne Rickenbaugh, and landowner Stirling "Buzz" Cooper.
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ASPEN, Colorado – The acquisition of about 54 acres of mining claims on the back of Aspen Mountain won initial approval Wednesday from Pitkin County commissioners.

The $750,000 purchase was approved on first reading; a public hearing and final approval is scheduled Oct. 28. The funds for the purchase will come from the county’s Open Space and Trails Program, which is supported by a dedicated property tax.

Stirling “Buzz” Cooper has agreed to sell the county the acreage, which includes an existing hiking trail and has the potential for additional trail development, according to open space officials.



Commissioner Patti Clapper called the acquisition “a huge gain.”

The property includes an existing lollipop trail (go out, make a loop, and return), partially on U.S. Forest Service property. It takes off from near the junction of Little Annie and Castle Creek roads, south of Aspen.



The trail provides commanding views of Hayden Peak and the Castle Creek Valley, and passes by the remains of several old mining cabins, according to a memo to the commissioners from Dale Will, open space and trails director.

The property abuts Forest Service land and backs up to 647 private acres that were previously sterilized from development through the county’s transferable development rights program.

While much of the Richmond Ridge area on the back of Aspen Mountain is dotted with private cabins, the combination of the Cooper mining claims and the acreage protected through TDRs creates an area worthy of protection for its habitat and scenic values, according to Will. The Cooper property includes the Quien Sabe, Rucker, Ewing, Etcetera, Tarifa and Dick mining claims.



Cooper has asked that the property be dedicated in the memory of his late son, Stirling Cooper Jr., a former Aspen banker who died in a fall while canyoneering in Utah in 1999.


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