The Bair Ranch preservation project that was approved by the Eagle County commissioners last week was a wonderful example of our community teaming together with other parties to preserve part of our Western heritage.
Particular thanks are owed to congressmen Scott McInnis and Mark Udall, who helped secure the initial $1.5 million in BLM funding for the project, and to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (and Director Greg Walcher) and Great Outdoors Colorado, who helped justify and commit $400,000 in state funding.
Perhaps the hardest work was put in by the Conservation Fund, a national land conservation organization that worked with the Bair family to develop the details of the proposal, and the Eagle Valley Land Trust, which mobilized community support and pledged to raise an additional $1.1 million in local funding to complete the deal. They have put their money on the line.
Even with all the above, the Bair Ranch project probably would not have happened without the input of hundreds of Eagle County residents who wrote, phoned and e-mailed our county commissioners, and the 100-plus citizens who attended the commissioners’ hearings on July 29 and 31. Notables included State Senator Ken Chlouber (who was especially impressive in his advocacy); Eagle River Watershed Council representative Tom Steinberg; the Bair family; current and former town council members from Avon, Gypsum, Vail and Eagle; and representatives of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Trout Unlimited, Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Colorado Open Lands, and the Aspen Valley Land Trust.
Lastly, special thanks are owed to Commissioner Arn Menconi, who tirelessly, passionately and eloquently stated the case for preserving the Bair Ranch and its Western heritage, and Commissioner Mike Gallagher, who listened to his constituents and did the right thing.
Andy Wiessner and Patsy Batchelder