Town of Eagle adds to open space | VailDaily.com

Town of Eagle adds to open space

EAGLE — The A&R property, a 160-acre oblong tract that lies between the town of Eagle’s open space and adjacent U.S. Bureau of Land Management property will be purchased for the town on May 31.

“There’s been a longtime desire not to have this become its own subdivision,” said Eagle Open Space Coordinator John Staight.

He said the purchase of the property has been a deal that’s been 15 years in the making.

The funding partners for the A&R property deal are the town of Eagle, the Eagle Ranch Wildlife Committee and Eagle County. The town and the Eagle Ranch group are contributing $144,000 each, while Eagle County is kicking in the remaining $447,000 of the remaining $735,000 purchase price.

Connecting passage

As part of the purchase deal, the land will be placed in a conservation easement and will be subject to the town’s seasonal wildlife closures.

Staight noted that the primary value of the land is as critical winter habitat for deer and elk, but its location next to the existing Kill Bill, Abram’s Gulch and Adam’s Ridge trails make it a logical connection for four new segments.

Those connections will be very specifically planned.

“Trail connections will only be allowed through those four corridors” he said.

Large special events also won’t be allowed in the new area, but that’s not likely to be an issue, said Staight. The A&R parcel lies between town open space and BLM land, but it isn’t adjacent to support services.

‘”We get a lot of pressure for special events,” he said, “But we are just trying to make sure the planned events are limited and small enough for the space to handle.”

For instance, the town has been approached to host an event called Train to Hunt, in which a group, figured at less than 100, will hike and scout terrain around Eagle’s open space to learn more about the physicality involved in hunting big game and terrain elements which make for a successful hunt. The event would be an acceptable use for the parcel, he noted.

Human and Wildlife Conflict

Eagle’s annual seasonal wildlife closures, which affect open space parcels and begin annually on Dec. 15 and continue until April 15, are sometimes the source of conflict among people who want to continue to use the trails at times when then are off limits because of wildlife needs. During a meeting last week, Craig Westcoatt, of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, noted he isn’t interested keeping people from enjoying access to publicly owned land.

“The last thing in the world I want is oversight of this property,” he said.

However, if the Eagle Ranch Wildlife Fund, which is partially funded through the subdivision’s 1 percent real estate transfer tax, is involved in the purchase, then the land’s value as wildlife habitat has to be a paramount concern.

Staight noted that the pass-through nature of the parcel should generally limit human encroachment through the area. “We aren’t looking at hosting Woodstock up there,” he said. “It’s seen as a place that people will pass through.”