Vail Daily column: Logistics and importance of Hardscrabble Ranch | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Logistics and importance of Hardscrabble Ranch

Annie Egan
Valley Voices

Editor’s note: Find a cited version of this column at http://www.vaildaily.com.

It has been brought to our attention that there is a little confusion about how the purchase and resulting conservation easement will work in regards to the Hardscrabble Ranch property. We would like to clarify the logistics behind this purchase and why it is so important to the Vail Valley.

• A conservation easement through the Eagle Valley Land Trust will protect more than 1,540 acres in the Brush Creek Valley, which faces tremendous development pressure.

• This land will be an attraction to summer and winter visitors alike, with plenty of public recreation, such as fishing, hiking and biking and getting bicyclists off the very dangerous Brush Creek Road.

• This is a very important wildlife corridor for plenty of deer and also the 300 to 500 elk that pass through the valley every year and have been pushed out of most other valleys due to the major development of the early 2000s. It is great winter habitat for them, also.

• Part of this 1,540 acres includes a working ranch with a cow-calf operation and plenty of hay fields in the picturesque setting of the Brush Creek Valley, thus preserving our ranching heritage.

The logistics

Here’s how it works.

• Grants are coming from local entities to help with most of the $15.5 million price tag on this property. We are thankful that the owners of the Frost Creek Golf Course have been willing to give us the opportunity to purchase this land and put it into protected public ownership. Entities contributing to this very important cause include Eagle County Open Space, Great Outdoors Colorado, town of Eagle, Eagle Ranch Wildlife Committee, Trout Unlimited and the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

• Anyone in this valley has the opportunity to contribute to this worthy cause, whether $25 or $25,000. The website for contributions is below, and if you contribute before Monday, your donation will be matched up to a total of $100,000. Donations of $250 or more will receive recognition on trailhead signage on the property.

• The loan to cover the gap in fundraising is being split between The Conservation Fund and money from Eagle County’s general fund.

• The Conservation Fund, which is a national organization that helps fund and make into reality purchases like this, will step in and lend funds toward the purchase of the property to guarantee that it actually happens. They will own it for a few months until all of funds are raised to pay them back.

• The Conservation Fund will then convey a perpetual conservation easement to the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

• Eagle County will eventually take title to the property when The Conservation Fund is paid back. They will lease the ranch part of the property to the present ranch manager, who has been very successful on the land, is a born-and-raised member of our community and has maintained the ranch property quite well. It will be a cost-share arrangement between him and the county.

• The rest of the property will eventually have hiking trails, fishing access, some picnic areas and a bike path on it to get our bicyclists safely up the valley.

Visit http://www.evlt.org/ourvalley and consider a contribution to Our Valley, Our Heritage. Please give anything you can. This is not just about big-name donors but about those of us who care about saving lands for public use and for our children.

Annie Egan is an Our Valley, Our Heritage committee member.