State wildlife division eyes Fryingpan site for housing | AspenTimes.com
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State wildlife division eyes Fryingpan site for housing

The state agency that tries to make sure there are homes for wildlife in the Roaring Fork Valley is trying to make sure there are homes for its employees in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is floating a proposal to provide three housing pads and utilities in the far eastern edge of the Basalt State Wildlife Area, about four miles up the Fryingpan Valley. Game wardens who work the valley’s three districts would be given the opportunity to place trailers or modular homes on the sites, according to Pat Tucker, area wildlife manager.

Tucker said the proposal was simply the wildlife division’s way of reacting to affordable housing woes.

“We’re no different from any other employer in the valley,” he said.

Although the wildlife division has steady staffing in the Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale districts, Tucker is concerned about the future. The agency requires new hires to stay in their first position for two years. If it doesn’t do something to provide affordable housing, the valley will just become a training ground for wildlife officers who move to more affordable parts of the state once their two-year stint in the valley is finished, Tucker said.

The wildlife division scouted its 5,000-acre Basalt State Wildlife Area for suitable building sites and selected four acres near the Seven Castles neighborhood. The agency can afford to provide building pads on its land. Buying land on the free market would make the project price prohibitive, Tucker said.

The four acres that was selected is just north of Fryingpan Road. The area north of the DOW’s proposed building site is already developed with free-market homes.

Tucker said wildlife such as deer, elk and possibly mountain sheep graze in that area but the effects of developing there would be minimal since a subdivision is already nearby.

The proposal was reviewed by various officials within the wildlife division over the last year and approved with numerous conditions. An existing access road must be used. A trailer could be placed on a pad by an employee because the trailer could be moved. A modular home would be acceptable, but the house would have to be moved or sold to another employee of the wildlife division, with price restrictions, if the original builder relocated or quit the division.

No formal development application has been submitted to Eagle County yet. The wildlife division held an open house Monday night in El Jebel to introduce the idea to residents of the Fryingpan Valley.

A sample of comments that were tossed to wildlife officers indicated residents were concerned that trailer homes would reduce the value of surrounding free-market property.

Bruce Gabow, a Fryingpan Valley resident for more than 25 years, attended the open house and asked the wildlife division “to leave us alone.” He said the Fryingpan Valley is always expected to bear the burden of pubic amenities, such as Ruedi Reservoir and dam, and a huge power line that runs almost the entire length of the valley before topping the Continental Divide at Hagerman Pass.

“It’s one thing after another,” Gabow said.

The wildlife division will assess how to proceed after it digests the comments from the open house, Tucker said.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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