County may up Droste funding
Pitkin County may up its contribution to $2 million in open space funds for preservation of the Droste lands outside Snowmass Village.
The county’s Open Space and Trails Board is recommending that county commissioners agree to double the $1 million already committed to the purchase of a conservation easement on the Droste family’s landholdings in the scenic Brush Creek Valley.
The Town of Snowmass Village reached agreement with the Drostes last month on conservation of 500 acres in the valley for $7.5 million. Peter Droste left the door open for preservation of another 300 acres if the town can come up with the cash.
Snowmass Village voters last year authorized $7.1 million in borrowing to preserve Droste lands. With additional county open space funds, the town can direct its attention to preserving more of the elk migration corridor on the upper reaches of the property, which the Drostes have discussed subdividing.
“By us coming in at $2 million, we can free up $2 million in Snowmass Village’s coffers to expend on further conservation up on top,” said Dale Will, director of the Open Space and Trails Program.
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Open Space expenditures require the approval of both the Open Space Board and county commissioners. Will said he expects a “favorable reception” to the proposal from commissioners.
Snowmass Mayor Michael T. Manchester hopes Will is correct and that the 500-acre conservation deal the town and the Drostes have already forged is only the first step in saving the Brush Creek Valley and the hills above it from development.
“This purchase is the first step – a major one – to preserve both the migration corridor as well as the habitat on the Droste ranch,” he said.
The latest conservation deal preserves virtually all that is visible in the scenic valley from Brush Creek Road, Manchester said. Any additional funding will allow the town to save more of the upper lands, which stretch across to the Owl Creek Valley.
The 500-acre deal, along with previous conservation purchases by the Open Space program, create 804 acres of contiguous open space in the Brush Creek Valley and its upper reaches.
Town voters will have a chance to review the planned expenditure they authorized last fall during a community meeting today at 5:30 p.m. at the Snowmass Conference Center.
On Oct. 11, the Town Board is expected to take final action to ratify the 500-acre conservation easement. The Drostes have already signed off on the deal, Manchester said.
In addition to the preservation of wildlife habitat and scenery, the deal will allow creation of a trail linking Snowmass Village to the Highway 82 corridor through the Brush Creek Valley.
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After 14 years, a lengthy lawsuit by area residents and nearly $4 million in construction costs, a half-mile trail to two school campuses in the Castle Creek Valley was finally completed this week.