News in Brief
IRS wins honor for role in preserving castleThe Internal Revenue Service has received recognition for its work in saving the historic Redstone Castle in Redstone.The IRS received the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chairman’s Award for Federal Achievement in Historic Preservation Wednesday in Washington, D.C.The castle was threatened when, in 2003, the IRS seized the mansion from owners involved in an illegal investment scheme. The agency planned to sell it to help recoup losses, but recognized that simply selling the property might have adverse effects on its historic character. The IRS worked to ensure that, when the property was transferred, it carried covenants to preserve its historic integrity. A private party purchased the mansion, with its conservation provisions, for $4 million at an IRS-sponsored auction in 2005. Redstone is south of Carbondale; the castle is on the National Register of Historic Places.”We applaud the IRS undertaking that went the extra mile to preserve and ensure appropriate sustainable use of Redstone Castle,” ACHP Chairman John L. Nau III said in a news release.Various partners in the effort, including Darrell Munsell of the Redstone Historical Society, received partnership certificates. Pitkin County commissioners also received a partnership commendation, to be presented a later date.Land exchange appproved for Ryan parcelCongress has approved a land exchange to prevent further residential development at the head of the Castle Creek valley and help consolidate public land holdings on Smuggler Mountain.U.S. Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar, both Democrats from Colorado, sponsored the bill, which, now goes to the desk of the president for his signature.Under the bill, Pitkin County will transfer two parcels to the U.S. Forest Service – a 35-acre tract near the ghost town of Ashcroft, and about 18.2 acres of patented mining claims on Smuggler Mountain near Aspen. These acquisitions will complete the Ashcroft Preservation Project, initiated in 1980, to consolidate its National Forest land ownership in and around Ashcroft, according to Salazar and Udall, who said the deal also will help the Forest Service manage its lands on Smuggler Mountain better. In return, the federal government will transfer to the county a 5.5-acre tract south of Aspen, nearly 6 acres on Smuggler Mountain that are near lands the county now owns, and a 40-acre tract of BLM land along the Crystal River, which will be subject to a permanent conservation easement limiting future use to recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, and open space.”It’s so exciting,” said Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper, who testified before Congress several times in support of the land exchange. Clapper was on vacation in California when she heard about the passage of the bill.Pitkin County Open Space Director Dale Will said he is “relieved that we’re finally through the Congress and can move forward” with a complicated land exchange process that began seven years ago when the county spent $3 million of its open space fund to buy the land. The county bought the land from David Middleton in 1999 after Middleton, who once said he had bought it to preserve it from development, put it on the open market.Assuming the president signs the bill into law, Will said, it directs the U.S. Forest Service to complete the land exchange process within a year of the signing.He said that will begin with getting appraisals for all the different parcels involved, including the 5.5-acre parcel adjacent to the Roaring Fork River near the Wildwood School that is to be conveyed to Pitkin County.That land, once it is in Pitkin County’s hands, is to be sold for development if county voters approve the sale. The proceeds would go back into the open space fund.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.
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Bluebird skies, spring-like temperatures and a few inches of snow from Monday night’s storm helped Snowmass skiers and snowboarders cruise into the season Wednesday for opening day.