Contact: Toby Sprunk, Open Space Director, 970-328-8698 or firstname.lastname@example.org
News release from GOCO
June 19, 2012 – Eagle County has been awarded $3.96 million from the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Rivers Initiative Program toward two major conservation and recreation projects on the Colorado River. The projects include a conservation easement with three public access points on the Colorado River Ranch and the purchase of the Nottingham property. An additional $600,000 was awarded jointly to Pitkin County and Eagle County toward purchase of the Saltonstall parcel in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The GOCO Rivers Initiative grant award will be matched with money from Eagle County's dedicated Open Space Fund. The Saltonstall grant will supplement funding from the Pitkin County, Eagle County and Town of Basalt open space programs, as well as from the Mid-Valley Trails Committee, for purchase of the 145-acre property. According to Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon, the grants reflect the county’s commitment to leveraging open space funds as much as possible. “We wouldn’t receive these types of larger grants without matching dollars,” said Runyon. “Our Open Space Fund and our regional partnerships allow us to pursue funding opportunities that would not otherwise be available to us,” he said.
The two Colorado River acquisitions encompass four miles of river frontage and 1,245 acres of wildlife habitat, effectively connecting the Flat Tops Wilderness Area to the Bull Gulch Wilderness Study Area.
The 1,017-acre Colorado River Ranch will remain in private ownership and continue operating as a working ranch, producing organic cattle and hay. As part of the deal, Eagle County will be allowed to provide irrevocable and permanent public access to the Colorado River and to the historic Colorado River Ranch schoolhouse, as well as on the boundary to the Bull Gulch Wilderness Study Area.
Commissioner Jon Stavney says the easement on the Colorado River Ranch provides a centerpiece for the county’s larger river access plan. While access across the entire ranch will not be open to the public, the county will add improvements at the southern portion of the property with the intent of having it managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). “We certainly appreciate the landowner’s patience during this process,” said Stavney. “Their willingness to put a conservation easement in place shows their commitment to being good stewards of the land.” If the project closes as planned, Eagle County will likely complete boat launch improvements in 2013 which Stavney says will provide a badly-needed public river access point between Burns and Cottonwood.
The Nottingham property includes 228 acres and two miles of river frontage. It is anticipated the property will be owned by the county and managed by the BLM. Uses being contemplated at the site include primitive camping, fishing and hiking to complement other options available along the Colorado River.
Eagle County’s Open Space Director Toby Sprunk says the Rivers Initiative was an extremely competitive grant cycle. Of the original 63 projects proposed from around the state, 17 were invited to submit full proposals and only 8 ultimately received funds. "Our project contains many strong conservation values, including public recreational access, wildlife habitat protection, a stunningly scenic landscape, historic resources, water rights and local agricultural productivity,” said Sprunk. “This range of benefits is why it was so favorably received by GOCO,” he said.
For more information, contact Sprunk at 970-328-8698.