This deal looks great
From our view, the idea to preserve more than 2,100 acres of open space between Edwards and Eagle-Vail seems like a sweet deal. It’s an admirable feat in the bureaucratic world to get four different governmental agencies to swap eight pieces of land. But from the everyday Eagle County resident’s view, this deal is pretty good, too.
Until each of the pieces of land are appraised, we won’t know if any cash will be part of the swap. But a land exchange will be far more affordable than the multi-million-dollar open space purchases we’ve seen lately.
The fact that Eagle County taxpayers stand to preserve some ideal open space and hiking terrain at a discount speaks well of all those elected officials involved in brokering this deal.
The swap also will make good use of each property involved. Two parcels owned by the State Land Board will go to the U.S. Forest Service. One 640-acre piece is on the north side of the interstate above the Shaw Cancer Center. The second piece is a 640-acre parcel in the eastern part of Lake Creek Valley that borders another, isolated 160-acre parcel owned by the Forest Service that would have been a candidate for sale because of its location.
The Forest Service is handing over a 470-acre parcel between Wildridge and Singletree that has been a target for development. Another 80-acre piece of land on the north side of the Eagle River across from Eagle-Vail will remain as undeveloped riverfront. The Eagle Valley Land Trust will hold conservation easements on these properties to ensure they remain undeveloped.
A 150-acre tract owned by the Forest Service in the western half of the Lake Creek Valley will go to Eagle County and also be protected by a conservation easement held by the land trust.
Of course, not all land in Eagle County should be open space. A 40-acre Forest Service parcel near Eagle-Vail will be handed over to the State Land Board. The parcel borders another 640-acre parcel owned by the land board and both parcels are being eyed for development under a study commissioned by the Eagle-Vail Metro District. It’s far better to develop land that already borders an urban area than prime wildlife habitat up the minimally developed Lake Creek Valley.
We opined last week on this commentary page that the increased cooperation and communcation among government agencies benefits Eagle County residents.
This land swap is a prime example of just that.