Ranch supporters won’t seek GOCO money | VailDaily.com

Ranch supporters won’t seek GOCO money

Tamara Miller

Supporters of the effort to preserve a 72-acre parcel in west Edwards are withdrawing their application for funding from Great Outdoors Colorado, better known as GOCO.The Eaton Ranch application did not score high enough to get a recommendation from GOCO staff, said John Swartout, GOCO’s executive director. But that didn’t necessarily mean that Eaton Ranch would not have received funding. Ultimately, GOCO’s board of directors makes the final decision on funding requests, he said. The Vail Valley Foundation, which is leading the fund-raising effort, made the decision Wednesday afternoon, said Ceil Folz, president of the foundation. Foundation officials have known for about a week that GOCO staff would not endorse their request, Folz said. Their request was for $500,000 and only was for preserving the 16-acres that border the Eagle River. The rest of the parcel is part of the B&B gravel pit site. GOCO does not award open space funds for active mines, Swartout has said. The Eaton Ranch request was for the smallest amount of property of any of the requests GOCO has received for this funding cycle, Swartout said. The fund-raising success Eaton Ranch supporters have had so far also weighed into the staff’s decision, he added. So far, more than $10 million has been raised to purchase and preserve Eaton Ranch, leaving just about $2 million left to meet the $12 million purchase price, according to foundation officials. The foundation’s fund-raising deadline is Sept. 1.”One of the questions we ask before we decide to fund (a project) is, ‘Can you get this project done without GOCO?'” Swartout said. “Most applicants say, ‘No, we can’t. We absolutely have to have GOCO.'”Tamara Miller can be reached at tmiller@vaildaily.comVail Colorado

EAGLE RIVER PRESERVE COMMITTEE ENTERS HOME STRETCH OF FUNDRAISING EFFORTVAIL, Colorado With slightly over three months remaining in the effort to permanently designate the 72-acre Eagle River Preserve in Edwards as open space, the Eagle River Preserve Committee has entered the fundraising home stretch for the project as support and donations continue to flow in.As of May 1, the committee, comprised of Eagle County, the Eagle Valley Land Trust and the Vail Valley Foundation, had raised approximately $10.2 million of the $12 million necessary to purchase the historic Eaton Ranch. Since the project was initiated in September, financial support has come from the Eagle County Commissioners, metro districts and homeowners associations, as well as over 350 individuals and families throughout the Vail Valley.Letters of support have also been received from The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited, while several major statewide foundations are close to finalizing their support. While we feel very good about where we are to date, explained Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation, we are well aware that the home stretch may well be the most difficult part of this journey. We are truly grateful for every individual, business and organization that has stepped up and committed their support, but we still have some ground to cover. One source of that potential remaining funding was recently reworked to reflect post-purchase improvements as the committee withdrew its initial request to Greater Outdoors Colorado (GoCo) for current cycle funding. A secondary request will be prepared to address reclamation improvements to the property after it has been secured. Staff recommendation to the GoCo board that the project not be funded at this time resulted in the shift in focus. Reasons for not recommending initial monies included the size of the 16-acre segment of the overall parcel relative to much larger tracts of land under consideration and the current success of the overall fundraising effort did not make GoCo funding imperative for the project to be realized.Greater Outdoors Colorado is just one of a number of organizations and agencies that the committee has applied to for assistance in funding the Eagle River Preserve effort. As part of the overall fundraising process, Folz continued, we have sought help from a wide variety of groups, although we certainly never expected to receive funding from all of them. The GoCo staff had a number of questions regarding future improvements to the property, which led us to conclude that our efforts with GoCo might be better utilized for these improvements, rather than the actual purchase.Along these lines, the Eagle River Preserve Committee will conduct a public forum to gather input from interested citizens and groups relative to improvements that would be beneficial to the overall strategy for the parcel. An environmental education program with Eagle County schools is also in the planning stages. Once acquired, Eagle River Preserve will become public open space, owned by Eagle County, for hiking, biking, fishing, wildlife viewing and other dispersed low-impact recreation. The parcel would also represent the first significant stretch of public open space between Vail and Edwards. For additional information or to make a contribution to Eagle River Preserve, visit http://www.eagleriverpreserve.com.Vail Colorado

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