Snowmass Village Town Council denies Coal Basin request for funding
The Snowmass Village Town Council on Monday denied a request to contribute funds to the Coal Basin Restoration Project.
The project is restoring vegetation in Coal Basin, part of the Crystal River watershed. Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Pitkin and Garfield counties have already contributed to the project, and the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association was seeking an additional $2,000 from Snowmass Village to help reach its goals for this year.
Councilmen Jason Haber and Fred Kucker still had reservations about supporting a project outside the Snowmass Village area.
“The watershed is key to our total watershed,” Farris said in response. “Having lived and worked in Pitkin County for so long, there’s a concept of stewardship of our region. … Yes, it isn’t right here, but I would hope that if Snowmass needed something, those of us in Carbondale (would help).”
“I work regionally on a lot of different issues,” Haber said. “But almost always there is that ‘What’s in it for me? Why do I care?’”
The techniques the project incorporates, including using grazing cattle to revitalize the landscape, could be applied to other parts of the Colorado River basin if successful, said Dorothea Farris, president of the nonprofit.
“Every mine from the turn of the century can benefit from this,” Farris said.
Kucker also took issue with the fact that the request came outside of the council’s normal budget process.
“Snowmass has its own environmental issues and its own environmental problems,” Kucker said. “I think Snowmass taxpayer dollars should be used to address Snowmass problems.”
Councilman Chris Jacobson told Farris he loved the project.
“I don’t know where we’re going to go on the funding on this one, (but) I love the idea,” he said. “You can see the benefits very tangibly. I think the project is amazing.”
Haber said he’d be more interested in the request in the context of the normal grant process.
“It’s a bit unfair, or it’s just difficult, to make that decision to put the money here when we have other requests,” Haber said.
Farris commented that the Crystal River Valley and Snowmass are both in the White River National Forest. She also told the officials that the nonprofit’s intention is to use the funding to reach its goals for this year, the project’s third, and then find a different source to fully fund it next year.
“It’s not a plan to come back every year begging for money,” Farris said.
The request failed because the officials were split 2-2 on the motion to approve.
Councilwoman Markey Butler told Farris to come back in 2014.
“Hopefully we’ll have some grant money and we won’t have to,” Farris said.
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A six mile cross-country ski race brought 168 skiers to the trails between Snowmass and Buttermilk in 1971.