Vail Valley land swap on track
Vail Valley, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY ” Members of Eagle County’s Open Space Advisory Committee took a tour Monday of the more than 2,100 acres of open space and hiking terrain between Edwards and Eagle-Vail, Colorado that could change hands in a proposed five-party land swap.
The deal would permanently protect this land from future development, which supporters say is the only way to guarantee the views you enjoy today will still be there tomorrow.
Eight pieces of land would change hands among the town of Avon, the State Land Board, the U.S. Forest Service and Eagle County. Some of the land will be protected by conservation easements held by the land trust, and others will be protected by the Forest Service. All of this land will be open and accessible to the public.
The land exchange is far from a done deal. The biggest hurdle so far has been getting through the gauntlet of Forest Service process and bureaucracy.
“They have the most extreme set of guidelines on how to proceed,” said Jen Scroggins, associate director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust. “The first step is we have to have a feasibility analysis prepared, and we’ve done that, and now the Forest Service has to sign a ‘agreement to initiate,’ and after that, it’s full steam ahead.”
The Forest Service will require more studies ” archeology, biological, and title studies looking into property, mineral and water rights. Avon, Eagle County and the Land Trust have applied to the Open Space Advisory Committee to use county open space funds to pay for the required Forest Service work, Scroggins said.
One more piece of the puzzle will be the final assessed values of all the properties, which will determine if any extra money will be a part of the deal.
Here’s how the complex swap would work:
Two parcels now owned by the State Land Board will go to the Forest Service. These include a 640-acre area on the eastern flank of the Lake Creek Valley, and a 640-acre area on the north side of I-70 on the hillside above the Shaw Cancer Center.
By giving the land by Lake Creek to the Forest Service, another 160-acre parcel in the area owned by the Forest Service would be connected to the rest of the forest, and would no longer be a candidate for sale by the federal government.
Two properties now owned by the Forest Service would go to Avon. The first is a 478-acre are between Wildridge and Singletree, which has been a target for development for a decade. The other is a 85-acre area on the north side of the Eagle River across from Eagle-Vail. Conservation easements held by the Eagle Valley Land Trust will ensure this land remains open space.
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.
A 40-acre parcel by Eagle-Vail owned by the Forest Service will be given to the State Land Board. This area will be adjacent to another 640-acre parcel owned by the land board in Eagle-Vail, and both could be “upzoned” by the county so they could be developed, as recommended by the Urban Land Institute Study commissioned by the Eagle-Vail Metro District.
Topographic maps, conventional maps and Google Earth visuals with land boundaries are available for download at http://www.evlt.org/LEX
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