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Vail Valley land swap grows

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – A 2,300-acre land swap that would preserve open space in Colorado’s Vail Valley is still a year or so from completion.

“It’s gotten bigger, better and more complicated,” said Ron Wolfe, mayor of Avon. “It’s going very well but slowly. We’re now up to potentially 14 parcels of land that would change ownership among the players.”

The plan would ultimately create open space on lands that previously have been targeted for development, including 470 acres between Singletree and Wildridge.



Also preserved would be an 85-acre piece of land directly across the Eagle River from Paddy’s in Eagle-Vail. It’s possible that a walking trail and river access could be included on the land, Wolfe said.

“This was a piece of land that, in community surveys, people greatly value as undeveloped and unscarred,” Wolfe said.



Those two pieces of land would be transferred to Avon, which would contribute money to the deal. Eagle County would also contribute open space funds.

Residents value open space that provides habitat for wildlife, preserves Western heritage and acts as buffers between communities, Wolfe said.

The plan has grown from 2,100 acres in October 2008 to 2,300 acres today.



New to the plan are properties that the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District would use to build water tanks. The properties are in the Cordillera Valley Club area, the Mountain Star area and the Vail area.

The district could offer up either land or money in the deal, spokeswoman Diane Johnson said.

The tanks are “badly needed” by the communities, Wolfe said.

Also under the plan, Department of Transportation facilities would be moved from Eagle-Vail to the Dowd Junction area, Wolfe said.

Other pieces of the plan include:

• A 640-acre area on the eastern flank of the Lake Creek Valley and a 640-acre area on the north side of Interstate 70 on the hillside above the Shaw Cancer Center that will be transferred from the state land board to the Forest Service.

• A 150-acre parcel owned by the Forest Service on the west flank of Lake Creek will be given to Eagle County. This area will be protected by a conservation easement held by the land trust.

The swap involves the Forest Service, the State Land Board, the town of Avon, Eagle County, and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

The plan still needs studies and approvals that will take a year to complete, Wolfe said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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