Saving Ryan parcel not a done deal yet |

Saving Ryan parcel not a done deal yet

Though a solution has been found to keep the Ryan parcel in the public domain, some pesky details still need to be worked out.

A balance of nearly $500,000 needs to be raised from donations, and at least two land trades must be arranged to save the Ashcroft property. But people close to the situation are elated that the deal appears to be going through.

In a deal announced Tuesday, the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails program and Aspen Valley Land Trust have agreed to put up much of the money needed to buy the 35-acre piece of land. The seller is David Middleton, who bought the property in 1997 to prevent it from being developed as a private homesite. The two agencies each intend to trade their interest in the land to the U.S. Forest Service, which owns the rest of the Ashcroft area, for other properties.

Dale Will, director of the county’s Open Space program, said the highest priority project is that Middleton and AVLT must raise $475,000 – the balance of the $3.225 million purchase price. “That’s action item number one,” Will said.

Because federal regulations prevent the Forest Service from acting quickly to make a land exchange, AVLT’s role will be to hold its interest in the Ryan parcel for as much as two years, until a swap can be arranged. AVLT must borrow the money, and the loan is expected to cost close to $225,000.

As things stand now, the Open Space program’s interest in the Ashcroft land will eventually be traded for Parcel 79, a Bureau of Land Management property on the Crystal River, as part of the land exchange. Will said the 40-acre parcel, next to the BRB Campground, will make an excellent addition to the county’s open space inventory. “It’s a beautiful parcel,” Will said.

People close to the Ryan parcel are expressing their joy that a solution has been reached. “It’s a wondrous thing,” said, longtime Ashcroft-area resident Lynn Mace. “I’m thrilled that the integrity of Ashcroft ski area will be maintained.”

“I’m just elated,” said Forest Service District Ranger Rob Iwamoto, who helped broker the pending land swap.

John Wilcox, owner of the Pine Creek Cookhouse and Ashcroft Ski Touring, called the deal “great news.”

“I look forward to celebrating the day it’s finally transferred,” Wilcox said.

Ashcroft is located south of Aspen in the scenic Castle Creek Valley.

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