Great Outdoors Colorado pitches in $600K to Saltonstall land buy | AspenTimes.com

Great Outdoors Colorado pitches in $600K to Saltonstall land buy

BASALT – Pitkin County received a $600,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado this month to help with the proposed purchase of the Saltonstall property in Eagle County.

The award moves the county and its partners closer to setting a closing date on the $5 million deal with the owner of the 145-acre midvalley property, but two critical steps still must be taken. Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Director Dale Will said the Basalt Town Council and Eagle County commissioners still must appropriate funds for the purchase.

Both governments have been lobbied to reconsider their role by critics of the purchase. Neighbors of the Saltonstall property and ranchers who have grazing rights on adjacent public lands want to see Pitkin County and its partners acquire conservation easements or let the property be sold to a private party. They contend that would be the best way to ensure that historical uses continue. They don’t want to see the property become a recreation hub for mountain bikers traveling to the nearby Crown, about 9,000 acres of ground managed by the Bureau of Land Management between El Jebel and the base of Mount Sopris.

The deal has plenty of supporters – many of whom covet additional access to the Crown.

The Saltonstall property is on Hooks Spur Road. It includes 50 acres of irrigated pasture for hay production.

Other critics question why Pitkin County is buying land in Eagle County. Will has defended the expenditure by noting Saltonstall provides potential access to a substantial amount of public lands in Pitkin County.

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The Eagle County commissioners will consider appropriating the funds next week. The Basalt Town Council is scheduled to take up the issue July 10, Will said.

Pitkin County has pledged $1.87 million, while Eagle County has agreed to contribute $2 million. Basalt pledged $500,000, while the Midvalley Trails Committee contributed $50,000. The Great Outdoors Colorado grant was key to raising the total amount.

scondon@aspentimes.com