Group delays plan to buy wetlands |

Group delays plan to buy wetlands

In an effort to cooperate with other local environmental organizations,the Roaring Fork Conservancy has delayed plans to purchase 73acres west of Basalt. The conservancy didn’t want to compete against two other localprojects for limited state funds for open space purchases, accordingto Jeanne Beaudry, executive director of the Basalt-based nonprofit.”We’re actually trying to work together,” she said. The conservancy had been preparing to seek funds from Great OutdoorsColorado to help buy land in the Emma area considered to be primewildlife habitat, wetlands and an elk migration route. The land eyed for purchase is on both sides of Highway 82, justeast of the old Emma store and school. It would provide a landbridge between two wildlife sanctuaries: the Christine State WildlifeArea on the north side of the highway and the Bureau of Land Management’sLight Hill on the south side. The problem with going ahead with the application, Beaudry explained,is that different organizations are seeking Great Outdoors Coloradofunds for two other open space purchases in the valley. Pitkin County and the town of Snowmass Village are teaming toseek funds to buy 970 acres of the Droste property – wildlifehabitat and visually important lands at the entrance to SnowmassVillage. Aspen Valley Land Trust and the Aspen Center for EnvironmentalStudies are teaming to acquire 80 acres of the Rock Bottom Ranch,a environmentally-diverse property along the Roaring Fork Riversouth of El Jebel. Because Pitkin County is a co-applicant for the grant for theDroste land, the county Open Space and Trails Board assigned ahigher priority to that project than to the conservancy’s proposal.Without the Open Space Board’s full-fledged support, the conservancythought it would be best to withhold its grant application untila later GoCo cycle, according to Beaudry. The next grants willbe considered in August 1999 and March 2000. Beaudry said she hopes the 73 acres, which are divided among threeowners, will still be available for purchase. “There are always timing issues,” she said. “You wonder how longthe property owners are going to be willing to wait.”

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