Pitkin County celebrates close of complex land exchange
July 31, 2009
ASPEN – U.S. Sen Mark Udall is expected to attend a celebration Saturday in Aspen to celebrate the completion of a federally approved land exchange that preserves 35 acres in the vicinity of the Ashcroft ghost town south of town.
The public is also welcome at the celebration, to take place from 3:30-5 p.m. in the plaza outside the Pitkin County library. County commissioners and county open space officials are expected to attend. Refreshments will be served.
The Ryan Parcel near Ashcroft has become part of the White River National Forest through the exchange, preventing its potential development. The deal involved the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Program, Aspen Valley Land Trust and the U.S. Forest Service. Udall, then a congressman, was the sponsor of the Pitkin County Land Exchange Act of 2006, the legislation that put the Ryan land into the national forest and placed several federal parcels under Open Space and Trails ownership.
The process began in 2000 when Pitkin County and AVLT purchased the Ryan Parcel at the urging of the Forest Service to protect it from development.
Through the exchange, the Forest Service also received 18 acres of inholdings on Smuggler Mountain, flanking Aspen, while Pitkin County received a 40-acre tract spanning the Crystal River, 12 small parcels amounting to about 6 acres on Smuggler and the 8.4-acre Meens cabin site at the entrance to Difficult Campground east of Aspen. The latter parcel includes a trail easement that will allow completion of the East of Aspen Trail to Difficult and fishing access on the Roaring Fork River.
Pitkin County is now under contract to sell the cabin for slightly more than $2 million, allowing it to recoup fund invested in the protection of the 266-acre Sawmill Hill overlooking Redstone in the Crystal River Valley.
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The county has parlayed the exchange of 53 acres to the national forest into some 312 acres of county open space, noted Dale Will, Open Space and Trails director, in a press release.