Aspen Valley Land Trust fundraising to buy Red Hill property | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Valley Land Trust fundraising to buy Red Hill property

Ryan Summerlin
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Aspen Valley Land Trust is kicking off a campaign to secure property at the base of Red Hill north of Carbondale, a project mainly aimed to protect the land from possible development.

Partnering with Carbondale, the land trust says it will need to raise $545,000 more for the project in order to buy the 25-acre tract at the gateway into town.

“The total project budget to purchase the land, complete the design and implementation of the new trail and access area, and ensure long-term conservation of the property, is $1.35 million,” according to AVLT.

The project is also working on a tight timeline, as AVLT has an agreement with the land owner that will only last until the property closing in January.

"It's going to be a community effort to make this a reality, and we need everyone's help."
Suzanne Stephens, executive director of Aspen Valley Land Trust

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The land trust is already half way to the funds it needs, but it will need to raise the rest before mid-January.

After the land trust has made the purchase, it plans to hand the land off to Carbondale for free.

“It’s going to be a community effort to make this a reality, and we need everyone’s help,” said Suzanne Stephens, executive director of AVLT.

If successful, the land purchase would allow for construction of a new trailhead just west of Garfield County Road 107 with additional parking for Red Hill trail users.

Currently, trail users have to park by Colorado 82 and walk up the county road to the trailhead. The county and area residents also want to get hikers and mountain bikers off of the road for safety reasons.

While AVLT and Carbondale have been eyeing the property for years, previous efforts at acquiring it have fallen through because the asking price was always been too high. That is, until recently, when the owner dropped the price.

But the price coming down could prove a double-edged sword, as it’s also raised interest from private interests that would put commercial development on the property, Stephens has said.

AVLT and the town of Carbondale want to block potential commercial development at the gateway into town. A mini storage business, for example, has been proposed for that location.

“This property has been identified by the town as an important property at its entry point, and people are really beginning to step up and contribute,” said Stephens.

“I hike and mountain bike Red Hill on a regular basis — it is one of the only [accessible] trails that is usable throughout most of the winter and at its prime in the spring and fall,” said Cathy Porter, a frequent trail user. “The trail’s proximity to town makes it perfect either before or after work. This is Carbondale’s backyard, and it means a lot to a lot of people.”

“I can’t tell you how timely this effort is,” said Linda Singer Froning, a resident on Red Hill. “Something had to be done about getting trail users off the road. This was an issue 10 years ago and is only getting worse as more and more people use Red Hill. If we don’t do something soon, someone is going to get seriously hurt.”

Donations can be submitted at avlt.org, or mail in a donation to 320 Main St., Suite 204, Carbondale.