Droste a done deal | AspenTimes.com

Droste a done deal

Tim Mutrie

Droste is finally a done deal.

After several years of negotiations, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County finalized the $7.5 million purchase of a 500-acre conservation and trail easement yesterday on the Droste family’s property along Brush Creek. As a result, the scenic entrance to the village through the Brush Creek Valley will remain undeveloped.

But yesterday’s formalities weren’t without drama. In a last-minute gesture of goodwill, the Drostes donated just under 3.3 acres to the easement, ensuring the soon-to-be-built trail along Brush Creek will not be interrupted.

County open-space program director Dale Will spotted a gap between the new easement and an existing conservation easement on the Droste property. Without the family’s last-minute donation, the break between easements could have jeopardized the trail development.

“The Drostes could have made things difficult, but thankfully they didn’t – they were very generous,” Will said. “The trail easement provides for a trail along Brush Creek, and a trail design is already under way.”

The new easement complements past open-space acquisitions on adjacent Seven Star Ranch and Droste lands. The result of yesterday’s deal is that 804 acres of contiguous lands valuable to wildlife and outdoor recreationalists will be protected, according to a written statement from Pitkin County.

“It is very gratifying to be part of the team of so many people

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that contributed so much to preserve this property for its extremely valuable environmental, wildlife and visual qualities,” said Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester.

“The people of Snowmass Village and all of Pitkin County should feel very proud. They have preserved a wonderful gift for future generations.”

Snowmass Village voters approved a $7 million bond in 1998 to put toward the easement. Under the deal signed yesterday, $5.5 million of that money will go toward the conservation easement; the county’s Open Space and Trails Fund contributed the remaining $2 million.

The remainder of Snowmass Village’s bonding capacity will be used to preserve additional Droste lands, if possible, according to town officials.

Peter Droste, the family’s representative in the negotiations, said: “My family and I are very pleased to be able to preserve a large portion of our property for the good of all concerned.”

The Brush Creek Valley is a critical elk migration corridor and habitat for a variety of birds. It also contains wetlands. To help preserve the wild habitat, the Drostes have developed a habitat restoration plan cooperatively with the Natural Resource Conservation Service; it will be implemented next summer.

“Hopefully, everyone sees this as a big first step in preserving this entire ranch and the critical habitat it contains,” said County Commissioner Leslie Lamont.

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