Vail Daily letter: Pleased with outcome
August 27, 2015
Thank you to all who participated in the debate regarding the Vail Valley Foundation's request of the town of Avon to use the West Avon Preserve for an enduro mountain bike race as part of the GoPro Mountain Games. This parcel of land is protected by a conservation easement held by the Eagle Valley Land Trust.
EVLT did not have a legal basis to deny the request, but as a conservation organization, EVLT is not in favor of organized races and other forms of uses that are not typically considered passive recreational uses. While such uses could be an economic benefit for the community, they are not in keeping with EVLT's mission to preserve forever our scenic vistas, open space, historic lands, waterways, and wildlife habitats that provide enjoyment, education, and benefit to all who experience this special place.
In order to secure promises from landowners to forever limit development of their land, EVLT typically must allow them to retain some significant rights or they will not sign the contract (called a conservation easement). EVLT must compromise a strict reading of its mission for the greater conservation good. This is a strategy that is in keeping with our mission and allows land trusts across the country to do great work.
For example, EVLT has at times agreed to allow landowners to retain rights to build a driveway and a home (or sometimes a few homes on larger parcels), quarry gravel for personal use, and allow commercial hunting and even commercial motorized sightseeing on existing roads.
In the case of the West Avon Preserve, at the time of the writing of the conservation easement, the town negotiated to retain the right to hold commercial biking events that would have some impacts to the property's habitat. Therefore, EVLT found itself in the uncomfortable position of having to permit a competitive bike race on conserved land.
EVLT worked hard with the town to create significant requirements to minimize impacts and the Vail Valley Foundation worked hard to accommodate these requests graciously. Ultimately, the town council voted to deny the request and EVLT is pleased with the outcome.
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Executive director, Eagle Valley Land Trust
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