Public could be denied trail access |

Public could be denied trail access

Dear Editor:

When the Windstar Land Conservancy was created in 1996, the Windstar property in Old Snowmass was encumbered with a conservation easement that included use by the public. The Aspen Valley Land Trust, the Board of County Commissioners, the Windstar Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Institute were parties to this agreement. Public taxpayer funds were used to forge the agreement.

Long before the establishment of the Windstar Land Conservancy, the public enjoyed access to the Windstar property for hiking and riding horses. John Denver donated this beautiful 900 acres with its open spaces, trees and pond to the Windstar Foundation, envisioning that it would always be open for appropriate use by the public. When the legal documentation was written, guided nature walks, horseback riding and cross-country skiing were listed as consistent uses.

The Rocky Mountain Institute and the Windstar Foundation have decided to sell 35 acres of this special property to a private buyer. The building envelope includes the trailhead and parking areas now used by the public. So the situation could develop that the public has legal access to the trails through the conservation easement but might have no parking area and thus no access.

The Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council is deeply concerned that these wonderful trails could become inaccessible by the public unless specific provision is made for car and trailer parking. This would be a great loss to our community of hikers and equestrians who currently enjoy this protected area. We want the public to be aware of this situation.

Shelley Burke

President, Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council

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