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Vail Daily column: Why I’d swap mountains

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

For development as well as preservation purposes, it makes sense to build on Meadow Mountain and turn Battle Mountain into national forest.

Privately owned Battle Mountain lies deeper in the forest, provides lynx habitat, remains relatively pristine. It’s truly beautiful up there, besides.

Meadow Mountain has been logged over, farmed, skied on and had several private owners before the Forest Service wound up with it. Besides, it’s closer to civilization as defined by I-70 and runs up right behind Minturn.

In short, don’t laugh so hard so fast at the idea of a land swap. There is logic to this even if it proves unpopular.

The properties are about the same size. Extra traffic would not run through Minturn to serve Meadow Mountain homes. The development company has its approvals to build on Battle Mountain when the economics work, if they ever do. Meadow Mountain looks like the easier project to build, though looks may be deceiving considering its known slide zone in particular.

Observers bring up proximity to Beaver Creek, just as they did about Battle Mountain’s proximity to Vail Mountain. These things are knowingly pointed out as if crimes in progress. But really, so what?

The developers say they would seek to build much less on Meadow Mountain, which they’d leave three-quarters open space as well as keeping nearly all the trails open up there.

Of course, they also say nearly a decade after Bobby Ginn’s grand promises to build a private ski resort, a golf course and big ol’ hotel on the land they own south of town that they have cleared the major hurdles in the way of developing Battle Mountain, albeit more modestly.

Times have changed, Bobby blew out in a fit of bankruptcy, and the owner, Lubert Adler, has toyed with everything from building to selling to now testing the notion of a land swap.

Current general manager Tim McGuire has been careful to say they are just floating an idea, and the town of Minturn would have to embrace the plan enough to partner with the company, not to mention endure the long gantlet toward Forest Service approval.

That approval would, among lots of other things, require public support as well as endorsements of the idea from all the local governments.

This is to say, good luck with all that.

But I like it. Then again, I don’t hike, bike or run Meadow Mountain trails. Too crowded for me. I’m the guy who often will drive from trailhead to trailhead until I find one with no cars.

And I’ve been on Battle Mountain. Like I told Cliff Thompson, the representative who gave me the tour a long time ago: Love it! Sure don’t want anyone building here.

So I’m a little biased.

While skeptical the economics of building homes on Battle Mountain would ever pencil out, I see enough of a chance in my rough calculating that I’d bite on 25 percent of already trammeled Meadow Mountain being developed to eliminate the possibility on Battle Mountain.

But that’s just me.

Go ahead, keep snorting at the very thought. I just wonder if your sentiment might be misplaced.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2920.


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