Grange Ranch deal moves forward |

Grange Ranch deal moves forward

Aspen Times Staff
Mary Grange and her brother Peter help their uncle, Billy, on the family-run ranch in Basalt on Saturday. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

Pitkin County commissioners agreed Wednesday to a large conservation easement on the Grange Ranch, and signs look good for approval in Eagle County and Basalt.”We’re real happy,” said Billy Grange, whose family has farmed the land for four generations. “It’s a good life. That’s about it. I enjoy it.”

Dale Will, executive director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, said he lives for moments like the approval of the easement. He called the deal a perfect partnership of public agencies and the Grange family. Will said the permanent easement will preserve a working farm in Pitkin County. The land, Will said, is also important scenic backdrop to the Rio Grande Trail, which crosses the property. And the agreement will allow for fishing, boating and bird-watching – without any liability for the family – on sections of the Roaring Fork River that pass through the ranch.Pitkin County Open Space and Trails signed a contract last week to buy conservation easements on the Grange ranch, just downvalley from the core of Basalt, for $5 million. The program will contribute $3 million to the deal.

The Eagle County Open Space Advisory Committee voted Monday to recommend contributing up to $1.75 million to the Grange ranch conservation easement purchase. The county commissioners will rule on the request later this fall. Open space board members said they hope Basalt makes a larger contribution if voters approve its proposal to increase sales tax for open space purchases, trails and park projects in the Nov. 7 election.The Basalt Town Council has already pledged $250,000 out of its general fund for the Grange ranch project.

The governments will also seek a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, which would mean Pitkin and Eagle counties and Basalt would have to contribute less for the deal.The conservation easements the governments acquired will permanently extinguish development on the Grange Ranch, Will said. The family can build one house and keep the two existing historic ranch houses as well as build an accessory dwelling at each of the three lots.The Granges can continue operating the ranch for as long as they want under terms of the deal. If they stop running the ranch they can continue living on the property. They can also lease the agricultural rights to the land, Will said.

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