Roaring Fork Conservancy event raises more than $100,000 for Basalt firefighters, police | AspenTimes.com

Roaring Fork Conservancy event raises more than $100,000 for Basalt firefighters, police

The Roaring Fork Conservancy broke with tradition this year and used its annual fundraiser to generate contributions for the Basalt fire and police departments as well as its own programs.

The conservancy raised more than $100,000 as of Friday afternoon for the town's first responders, according to Sarah Woods, cochair of the conservancy's annual River Rendezvous. She is still seeking contributions this week.

The River Rendezvous typically includes a special "Paddle Raise" that focuses on a conservancy program. Woods said she felt the special fundraising effort had to be used for the police and firefighters for their response to the Lake Christine Fire.

"All this money needs to go to these people for saving (us)," Woods said.

“Downvalley, you have lots of people with big hearts and wallets.”

— Sarah Woods

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Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson said the contributions to the fire department would be divided between the Basalt volunteer firefighters association and a fund for Cleve Williams, the firefighter who lost his family home in the fire.

Woods said Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott indicated funds would go to the local Victim Assistance and Law Enforcement Program, which provides grants to agencies that work with crime victims.

Woods said that since the Roaring Fork Conservancy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, contributions through it for the fire and police departments can be used as a tax write-off. She will give all contributors a receipt.

The River Rendezvous on Wednesday night at the Dallenbach Ranch on the Fryingpan River was the best attended ever, with 310 people showing up.

People said they needed to get together to celebrate after watching the fire come so close to obliterating Basalt and El Jebel, Woods said.

"Downvalley, you have lots of people with big hearts and wallets," she said.

The River Rendezvous also raised about $400,000 for the conservancy through ticket sales, a silent auction and other means, according to Woods.

Woods plans to raise additional funds for the police and fire departments by personally contacting people who were invited to the River Rendezvous but couldn't attend.

People who want to contribute can call her at 970-927-9595.

There are numerous efforts underway to raise funds for victims of the Lake Christine Fire and agencies that played a role in controlling it. The Aspen Community Foundation activated its Community to Community Disaster Relief Fund. It sent a letter to its supporters alerting them to the special effort. More can be found on that effort at https://aspencommunityfoundation.org/donate-to-acf-to-help-victims-of-basalt-fire/.

Local authorities said Friday they have been inundated with inquires for information on how to thank the federal firefighters as well. They posed the question to Mike Almas, incident commander on the Lake Christine Fire for the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team. His advice is to contribute to the Wildland Firefighters Foundation, which helps families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and assist those who are injured. More on the organization can be found at http://www.wffoundation.org.

scondon@aspentimes.com