Approve Sutey exchange |

Approve Sutey exchange

Dear Editor:

I am writing to again ask the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners to approve the latest Two Shoes-Sutey Ranch compromise proposal advanced by the Wexner family. It seems that this new proposal has everything the county could possibly hope for, including a $1 million donation for the Bureau of Land Management to manage the Sutey Ranch.

However, as the first executive director of the Aspen Valley Land Trust, my main interest in the exchange is what it will do for the Crystal River Valley. Readers may recall that just last summer, Pitkin County and Great Outdoors Colorado partnered to acquire a $7.5 million conservation easement on the Cold Mountain Ranch, just south of Carbondale. This large and important purchase lies near other land already under conservation easement with the county, but more importantly almost directly across the Crystal River and Highway 133 from where the Wexners are now proposing to eliminate seven already-approved homesites and a large indoor riding arena. Almost 90,000 square feet of development in total would be given up.

The primary, and laudable, reasons given by Pitkin County for making the Cold Mountain Ranch purchase were to prevent sprawl from creeping up the Crystal south of Carbondale, and preserving the scenic vistas and agricultural operations in the area. It would seem that the Wexners’ offer does exactly the same thing in the same area, and is a perfect complement to the county/GOCO purchase last year. Better yet, the Wexner plan is a donation that doesn’t cost us a penny, as another letter recently observed.

Lastly, the Wexner plan goes beyond just surrendering development rights in the area. It also puts a conservation easement on an area in Potato Bill Creek just up the river, and thereby protects what the Colorado Division of Wildlife has said is some of the best remaining bighorn sheep habitat left in our county … AND it would result in a total block of 2,600 acres (four square miles) of conservation easement land on the slopes of Mount Sopris once the land exchange is completed.

As I have said before, it is simply incomprehensible to me why our commissioners haven’t already approved the land exchange.

Hal Clark

Twining Flats

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