Castle Creek’s future is at stake |

Castle Creek’s future is at stake

Aspen Times Staff Report

The Castle/Maroon Caucus will meet Wednesday to begin drafting a master plan for the upper Castle Creek Valley.

Lynne Mace, secretary of the caucus, said Wednesday’s meeting will be the first of a series devoted to creating a plan that will govern recreation, development, business and other aspects of life in the valley.

The first meeting will begin with a presentation by staff members from the Rocky Mountain Institute. Residents will get the second half of the meeting to offer their visions of how the valley should look in the future.

The presentation by RMI will be on author Wendell Berry’s concept of “solving for pattern.” It offers ideas on how to not just fix a problem, but to understand and work harmoniously with the entire system that contains the problem.

The Castle Creek Valley is unique, Mace said. It is made up of a few businesses, is a portal to the backcountry, has an historical ghost town that attracts 30,000 visitors annually, and provides areas that are used extensively by commercial outfitters such as Jeep tours. And it has potential for problems.

“The whole area is experiencing an explosion in use,” she said.

Mace said one reason to begin the master planning process now is to coincide with environmental assessments by the U.S. Forest Service on Ashcroft Ski Touring and the expansion of the Pine Creek Cookhouse. “What I’m hoping is that we can all work together,” she said.

An important question that remains unanswered in the face of increasing recreational use and growth is, “What is the carrying capacity of the valley?” The situation with motor vehicles at Ashcroft has already gotten pretty bad, she said.

The stakeholders in the Castle Creek Valley include not only residents and caucus members, Mace said. Organizations such as Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, which leads nature tours; the Historical Society, which manages the ghost town; the outfitters and tour guides; the recreational community; and everyone in the community has an interest in the valley’s future.

Everyone is invited to the first master planning meeting, to be held at the Health and Human Services Building next to Aspen Valley Hospital, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 27. Additional meetings are scheduled Feb. 8 and 22, March 8 and 22, and April 5 and 19.

“It would be my dream if we could solve the big picture,” Mace said, “and take everything into consideration.”

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