Sometimes it’s those little battles |

Sometimes it’s those little battles

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Sometimes environmental debates aren’t about momentous issues like global warming or drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Sometimes they are simply about a humble little clump of plum trees.When a developer sought approval for four houses and two apartments at the Hillside Grove subdivision, neighbors pointed out to town officials that a small grove of plum trees on the property was potentially in harm’s way. The little cluster of 25- to 30-year-old trees, which look more like bushes, are adjacent to a street where the water line will be excavated. The town government’s approval required the developer to try to save the trees.

Once survey stakes appeared on the vacant ground and excavation appeared imminent this spring, the neighbors wanted to make sure the plum trees were safe.”It’s a hot neighborhood topic,” Basalt Town Manager Bill Efting said.Preserving small-town character is a buzzword in Basalt right now as development exerts pressure that could change the town. The efforts of the neighborhood to preserve the trees might be a sign to some that the soul of Basalt is alive and well. (Others might argue it’s just another sign that Basalt is transforming into Aspen.)

There are no villains in the debate. Efting said the developer’s representative and its excavation company are cooperating with the town to save the plum trees, although saving the trees could add to the excavation expense. The town staff is keeping a sharp eye on the situation.”Staff is holding the line that the plum trees can and need to stay,” town planner Susan Philp reported to the Town Council in a recent memo.

All parties agree the neglected grove could use more attention and tender, loving care in the future.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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