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Stepping toward preservation

Special to the Daily

The following is a statement from the Vail Valley Foundation:Six months ago, the Vail Valley Foundation embarked on a bold initiative on behalf of Eagle County’s residents and guests that value the beauty of this valley, to permanently preserve the Eaton Ranch as open space forever, spearheading the effort to purchase the parcel for $12 million. For those not familiar with the Eaton Ranch land, the 72 acres between Highway 6 and Interstate 70 in Edwards includes the gravel pit that we have all come to know over the course of the past 20 years. The gravel pit is no longer in use and it is currently in the initial stages of being reclaimed into the beautiful meadow that it once was.Six months ago, this step to preserve this parcel was widely heralded as a tremendous opportunity to safeguard our collective quality of life. Then, as now, the land was recognized as a critical parcel, providing easy access for everyone to the Eagle River, while also enabling us to preserve a piece of our past for future generations. The Eaton Ranch project created a vision, as well as the support, to provide wide-open spaces on our valley floor, the likes of which are quickly disappearing. Then, as now, we agreed that together, we could achieve great things and pull together to change the future of our community.This is all still true today. In fact, since September there have been numerous positive steps that have been taken to move this effort closer to reality:– An independent appraisal confirmed the value of the land to be between $12 million and $13 million.– Supported by 1,500 Eagle County residents, the county commissioners committed $6 million to assist in the purchase of the land– Terms for a conservation easement have been identified, which target the future of this parcel as meadows, pastureland and low impact trails.– Seventy percent of the fund-raising goal has been achieved, although the most difficult part of this process is still to come.If we are successful in raising the remaining monies come Sept. 5, the land will be transferred to the citizens of Eagle County and a conservation easement will be in place with the Eagle Valley Land Trust to protect the property forever. The potential for the dramatic impact of high-density commercial and residential development, increased traffic and congestion will have been mitigated.We obviously believe that this is an important effort for this community and the foundation has prided itself on the ability to bring different segments of the valley together for the common good. We also respect the differing opinions. From the very beginning, the effort to preserve Eaton Ranch has been for and about the residents and guests of Eagle County, not the Vail Valley Foundation. If this community has a desire to preserve parcels of open space for future generations, we believe that they will continue to step forward with their support.The journey to preserve Eaton Ranch started on Sept. 6, 2004, with a small gathering next to the Eagle River. It will conclude at the closing on Sept. 5 of 2005. We encourage anyone who is interested in this effort to contact the Vail Valley Foundation or the Eagle Valley Land Trust. We would also encourage anyone who has questions to visit the project’s Web site at http://www.eagleriverpreserve.com.- The Vail Valley FoundationVail, Colorado


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