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December 20, 2012
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Pitkin County fronts funds for open space purchase

ASPEN - Pitkin County will front the entire $5 million needed for a midvalley open space purchase and collect reimbursement next year from its partners in the deal.

County commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to adopt an emergency ordinance appropriating the entire purchase price for what's known as the Saltonstall property, allowing the deal to close this year in accordance with the property owner's wishes.

The county's actual commitment to the purchase is about $1.8 million. Also putting money toward the acquisition are Eagle County ($2 million), the town of Basalt ($500,000) and Great Outdoors Colorado ($600,000). Those entities will reimburse Pitkin County for their shares in 2013.

The purchase involves about 147 acres on Hooks Spur Road in Eagle County, downvalley from Basalt. It includes irrigated agricultural land and access connecting the Rio Grande Trail to the Crown, a popular recreation area, particularly with mountain bikers. About 90 acres are on the Crown itself. The southern border of the property is within 1,000 feet of the Pitkin County border, providing access to public land within the county.

Commissioner Jack Hatfield voted against the altered financing scheme because, he said, he no longer supports acquisition of the property.

Hatfield said he fears potential impacts to wildlife on the Crown if a new recreational portal to the area is created.

The county previously voiced support for a Colorado Parks and Wildlife call for a winter closure of the Crown to human use to protect wintering elk. That decision is ultimately up to the Bureau of Land Management, which is at work on a new Resource Management Plan for its overall holdings in the region. The county has pushed for a sub-area planning effort by the BLM to address the Crown specifically.

janet@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 20, 2012 06:00AM Published Dec 20, 2012 12:55AM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.