Ashcroft’s Ryan parcel transferred to public hands |

Ashcroft’s Ryan parcel transferred to public hands

A land swap between Pitkin County and the federal government designed to protect the 35 acres near Ashcroft passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.Colorado Democrats Mark Udall and John Salazar co-sponsored the bill. It achieves a longtime goal of getting property known as the Ryan parcel into public hands.”This bill is of great interest to the residents of Pitkin County and the millions of visitors to the White River National Forest,” Udall said in a prepared statement. “It will protect the upper end of Castle Creek Valley, one of the most scenic and popular wilderness areas in the country, and it will help the Forest Service consolidate and manage its lands more effectively. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.”Under the bill, HR 1129, the county will transfer two parcels to the Forest Service – the Ryan parcel and about 18.2 acres of patented mining claims on Smuggler Mountain. These acquisitions will complete the Forest Service’s Ashcroft Preservation Project, initiated in 1980 to consolidate ownership in and around the historic ghost town of Ashcroft. They also will help the Forest Service better manage its lands on Smuggler, a heavily used recreational area.In return, the federal government will transfer three pieces of property to the county. They are a 5.5-acre tract south of Aspen that the county will transfer to private ownership after reserving a permanent public easement for a trail; nearly six acres on Smuggler Mountain that are near lands the county now owns; and a 40-acre tract of Bureau of Land Management land along the Crystal River, which will be subject to a permanent conservation easement limiting future use to recreational, fish and wildlife, and open space purposes.In a prepared statement, Salazar said, “This land exchange act will finally resolve years of debate on how to preserve one of our nation’s scenic gems. Pitkin County is an area of intense development, and preserving the beauty of the Roaring Fork Valley is a continued challenge. The community and local commissioners have rallied around this effort to help Pitkin County continue its popular open space preservation efforts. By working together in the community and working together in Congress, we will be successful in protecting our environment.”

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