Questions about land swap |

Questions about land swap

Dear Editor:

The letter asking you to vote for the 1C land swap by Chuck Downey, on Oct. 25, and brought to you by Pitkin Country Open Space and Trails, deserves some questions to be asked at this late date.

The voter should realize that Open Space lands acquired, managed, and owned by the county open space board are subject to resale and recreation development by them. A question that deserves asking is why wasn’t the 40 acres of BLM land straddling Crystal River merely conveyed to the Forest Service and their stewardship?

The only BLM land that appears to be in the Crystal Valley is near the BRB resort and contains a little known conservation area set aside by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program to protect the rare Canyon Bog Orchid. This area includes part of the old railroad grade coveted by OST for the Crystal River Bicycle Trail. The money to buy this apparently will come from the settling and resale of a disputed eight acres and cabin east of Aspen. The acquisition of the 266-acre Sawmill parcel near Redstone and mining claims also occur. Why isn’t the Sawmill acreage just reconveyed to the Forest Service for real protection into perpetuity as at Ashcroft?

Maintaining a balance of trail and recreational development in the unique and narrow Crystal Valley floor should be consistent with the Caucus Master Plan that calls for limited recreational development because of the extensive recreational facilities that are already exist. The Pitkin County OST department has acquired and protected many parcels, but they must be careful not to acquire and develop them inappropriately. Many parties are involved in this and we appreciate the tax savings and their endorsements, but did dedicated mill levy taxes for Open Space go into acquiring the land near Ashcroft?

William Hanks


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