AVLT’s purchase a mistake
Dear Editor:As a permanent resident and homeowner in Carbondale, I am extremely dismayed at the short-sightedness of the Aspen Valley Land Trust in the purchase of the Neislanik conservation easement, on the East Mesa adjacent to Carbondale (Aspen Times, Dec. 21).The area surrounding the individual towns in the Roaring Fork and Crystal River valleys is dominated by public lands administered by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Colorado Division of Wildlife. The White River National Forest alone composes 2.3 million acres. While these public lands offer a priceless contribution to our quality of life, the valley’s real estate market is continually pressured by the lack of available land for sensible, affordable housing development. In order to maintain our high quality of life, and provide for the needs of future residents, we must collectively plan for compact development where it makes sense. The logical place for providing for future growth is adjacent to currently developed commercial and residential centers, where future residents can walk, bike, and drive short distances to work, shop, and recreate. Through the purchase of the Neislanik conservation easement, the AVLT has indirectly encouraged and promoted sprawl and leapfrog development. AVLT has a one-track mission, and is obviously ignoring the future consequences of their actions.The town of Carbondale is composed of a wonderful mix of community members, many of whom are very proactive in community events, leadership, and volunteerism. Currently, the demographic comprises many income levels and nationalities. It is our demographic composition that creates an incredible balance and vibrancy within the community. For this vibrancy to remain healthy, the town must continually be planning for providing sensible growth and housing options. With the purchase of a 166-acre conservation easement immediately adjacent to the town’s urban growth boundary, thereby limiting the available land for housing, AVLT has effectively launched us down the path to complete gentrification of our community.Conservation easements are most effective when utilized for conservation of specific natural resources that would otherwise be threatened. These include outlying areas, away from major town centers where they will work to protect habitat, viewsheds, and provide a key level of development separation between the towns in the valley. At the current rate of subdivision and development, the entire valley will become one long string of continuous development, with little distinction between the towns that make this area unique. This is where conservation easements are most needed right now.AVLT should be working cooperatively with the town of Carbondale in identifying possible development areas and conservation needs. The town has put forth much effort into the composition of the Three-Mile Plan, which addresses these issues. Planners, wildlife managers, nonprofits, and community members need to work collaboratively in developing a vision for long-term sustainable growth. With certain entities focusing independently on their own agendas, we are destined for failure.Jon FredericksCarbondale
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