A fair trade
The Crystal River Caucus voted decisively last Thursday to endorse the Sutey/Two Shoes proposed land exchange. The Caucus members found the proposal very compatible with the core values of the 2003 Crystal River Masterplan. The Crystal Masterplan contains but is not limited to the following: preservation of the natural environment and protection of the valley’s rural character; maintenance of agriculture as a valley treasure, and future development should not occur at the expense of wildlife. The Crystal Trail should be developed within the existing highway right-of-way.
The presentation and lengthy discussion, in the presence of Division of Wildlife and Pitkin County officials, should send a strong message to all regarding what is most important to Crystal Valley residents. George Newman, speaking on behalf of Pitkin County, attempted to stall a caucus endorsement vote until the county could come up with another counter proposal to the one recently withdrawn by them. The withdrawn counter proposal was clearly an effort by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails to acquire land of their own by the exchange. The acquired land they were pursuing, approximately 376 acres, would have joined to another parcel acquired through exchanges made in 2007-08. This parcel is located in the Crystal Valley at Potato Bill Creek and would have provided a new recreation corridor into the proposed BLM swap.
The protections provided by the proposed exchange for preserving wildlife habitat for elk and bighorn sheep were clearly superior to management by Open Space and Trails which would insert large numbers of people into pristine lands by way of the Crystal Valley. Land stewardship is best achieved by the proponents as shown by the endorsements of the Aspen Valley Land Trust, the DOW, town of Carbondale and many others. The Crystal Caucus should be indebted to those jurisdictions.
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