Pitkin County commissioners give thumbs up to Snowmass Canyon open space

Pitkin County commissioners on Wednesday preliminarily approved spending nearly $58,000 on a 35-acre parcel that connects two county open space properties in Snowmass Canyon.

Currently known as the Vaughn Parcel, the steeply sloped property is located just below the Conoco Bridge between the Wheatley Open Space upvalley and the Lazy Glen Open Space downvalley, said Dale Will, acquisition manager for the Pitkin County Open Space Program.

“It’s probably not developable, although these days people get pretty frisky trying to push those things,” Will said. “One of the things that would be accomplished by this purchase would be we would forever eliminate the potential nuisance of an attempt to develop up on that hillside.”

The current owner approached Open Space Program officials, wondering whether it could be better managed by the county. The property, which is uphill of the Rio Grande right of way, will be severed from the owner’s current parcel and may eventually be absorbed into either the Wheatley or Lazy Glen properties, Will said.

A 1955 picture included in Wednesday’s Pitkin County commissioner information packet shows a freight train below a wooden flume carrying water across steep slopes on the Vaughn Parcel.
Courtesy photo

The property used to feature a wooden flume that carried water from the Roaring Fork River to irrigate Lazy Glen property, he said.

Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury said the $57,500 price for the property was “a steal for us” and that the owner, who was not identified Wednesday, was “incredibly generous.”

Board Chairwoman Patti Clapper agreed.

“We need to thank the current owner greatly,” she said.

The purchase will become official after the commissioners vote on it during their regular meeting April 13, when the public will have a chance to comment on it. It will mark the Open Space Program’s first purchase of 2022, Will said.