Eagle County preps planning session for vacant land next to Crown | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County preps planning session for vacant land next to Crown

Process will determine opportunities and challenges on county, Forest Service parcels

Staff report

Eagle County is seeking feedback on what to do with property it owns adjacent to Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel as well as additional land owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

The county administration and a consulting firm will hold meetings later this winter “to gather initial ideas and identify potential partners for managing the six county-owned undeveloped acres” as well as 70 acres of land that the Forest Service has proposed for sale or lease.

Eagle County obtained about 130 acres in the midvalley via a land swap with the Forest Service in the 1990s. Eagle and Pitkin counties traded mining claims surrounded by national forest. In return, they received land that was a former tree farm. About 124 acres was leased for use as Crown Mountain Park.

The Forest Service retained property along Valley Road, west of the park, and on a lower bench along the Roaring Fork River. The lower 40 acres is immensely popular with hikers and provides access to water for anglers. The White River National Forest supervisor has gone on record saying the Forest Service won’t sell or lease the property without a conservation easement on the lower bench.

The upper 30-acre parcel is highly coveted for development by some folks since affordable land is so scarce.

Eagle County will hold its “listening sessions” in late February or early March.

“The listening sessions will kick off with meetings of invited neighbors, community leaders, agencies and potential partners convening to discuss the future of this important site,” the county said in a news release. “Upon their conclusion, a report will be released that captures the ideas, opportunities and challenges associated with the properties, which will be presented to the Eagle County staff and Board of County Commissioners.”

While Eagle County has identified “key stakeholders” to participate in the sessions, other members of the public can participate in a session by contacting Jason Jaynes at jjaynes@dhmdesign.com.

The county process is separate from an Environmental Impact Statement that the Forest Service is preparing to analyze the potential sale or lease of the federal agency’s 70 acres. The forest supervisor’s office expects a draft EIS to be available for public comment later this year.

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