2010 a good year for Summit County Open Space | SummitDaily.com

2010 a good year for Summit County Open Space

In 2010, Summit County Open Space and Trails Department acquired about 240 acres of new open space, finished several parts of the recreation pathway, encouraged volunteers to plant trees and work on several portions of natural trails and performed several management projects.

That’s all within an annual budget of about $2.7 million, supported by a voter-approved mill levy.

The land acquisitions cost slightly more than $1 million, and are in nearly every basin in the county, Open Spaces and Trails Dept. director Brian Lorch said. The county money is leveraged at about one part county dollars to four parts donations or grant funding, he added.

Land is acquired based on criteria – access to recreation areas, protection of scenery, community buffers, etc. – set forth by the department and approved by the overseeing advisory council and the board of county commissioners.

“Rather than wait for the ‘no trespassing’ signs to go up … we’re usually very proactive in finding ways to maintain access for people,” Lorch said. The department was started about two decades ago to protect open spaces outside of the national forest as development was booming.

Lorch highlighted two pieces of land in the Upper Blue River Basin – the Royal Placer, which protects the Pennsylvania Gulch trailhead and parking, and the Storms Placer, which is about 40 acres in Galena Gulch.

“(The Storms Placer) is the centerpiece which will allow us a trail connection to connect Breckenridge to Tiger Road,” Lorch said. Both were joint purchases with the Town of Breckenridge.

In the Snake River Basin, three tracts of land will allow the department to complete the recreation pathway through the Summit Cove Area – a goal for 2011. Lorch added that several mining claims were acquired in the Snake River Basin, which should help the department “maintain the rural mountain character of Summit County.”

He said buying land, particularly mining claims, prevents roads from being extended into the mountains for individual homes and helps ensure access to historically used trails before they’re shut off by private property lines. It’s also part of a long-term county goal to keep development in the valleys as much as possible instead of on the mountains, Lorch said.

Forty acres acquired in the Lower Blue River Basin achieves a similar goal of maintaining access.

Because of the way the river turns, “that parcel could have limited access for people going downstream (from Green Mountain Dam),” Lorch said. “By purchasing this, we’re protecting fishing access.”

The department partnered and negotiated with private landowners or land management organizations in 2010 to obtain seven easements for continued work on the recreation pathway, and six easements for natural surface trail work.

The easements help “clean up” some missing ownership of existing pathway in Keystone as well as enable the completion of a natural surface loop trail around Clinton Reservoir near the Climax Molybdenum mine on the way to Leadville. In the Golden Horseshoe Gulch by Breckenridge, an easement allows the county to nearly complete a non-motorized trail through the area’s interior.

Other acquired easements are poised for future development, though they may depend on obtaining adjacent properties.

In 2010, reconstruction was done on recreation pathway segments along the Dillon Dam Road, behind Bill’s Ranch in Frisco and by Copper Mountain’s stables into Vail Pass, Lorch said.

It was repaving, “and a lot more,” he added.

The Swan Mountain Road’s Sapphire Point section of the recreation pathway saw about 2,000 feet get completed last year. The development aids the sense of safety and security of users, Lorch said.

Cost savings between engineer’s estimates and actual costs of construction meant about a half mile of trail in Summit Cove could also be completed.

Both are part of the department’s overarching goal to have a complete trail around Dillon Reservoir. The last pieces to be done are the Blue River section and about two miles of trail from Sapphire Point to Summit High School, along Swan Mountain Road. Lorch said engineers are currently firming up details and options for construction.

Other than the two missing segments of the unified Dillon Reservoir recreation pathway, an environmental impact statement is underway for a section of pathway that connects Copper Mountain to the Tenmile Canyon section. Lorch said work could begin in 2011 if the analysis is completed soon.

Lorch said the department also plans to continue its timber and weed management, which in 2010 saw timber removal on slightly more than 100 acres on four different properties – such as areas near the high school and by County Commons.

For more information, go to http://www.co.summit.co.us/openspace/.

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