Breckenridge honors longtime advocate for open backcountry space |

Breckenridge honors longtime advocate for open backcountry space

John “Turk” Montepare, center, gets a standing ovation as he’s presented the Citizen Leadership Award at Tuesday’s meeting of Breckenridge Town Council at Town Hall.
Eli Pace / |

For more than two decades, John “Turk” Montepare served as Breckenridge’s “voluntary acquisition specialist,” closing numerous deals for the town’s and Summit County’s open space programs while working to protect critical wildlife habitat, access to public trails and the community’s most scenic landscapes.

For his efforts to preserve open backcountry space and more, Montepare was publically honored Tuesday at the Breckenridge Town Council meeting and presented with the Citizen Leadership Award, reserved for an individual who makes a significant and outstanding contribution to the community, by Mayor Eric Mamula.

According to the nomination letter submitted by current members of the town’s Open Space Advisory Committee highlighting Montepare’s work, he was there in the beginning. He’s credited with helping to create Summit County’s Transfer of Development Rights, which allows local governments to shift unused density from one parcel of land to another where it might be better applied.

“The result of Turk’s efforts speak for themselves with over 90 percent of backcountry lands preserved via the TDR, zoning and open space programs,” Mamula said as he read aloud from the nomination letter.

Additionally, Montepare played critical roles in securing the passage of funding measures for both the town’s and county’s open space programs, and since Breckenridge enacted its program, the town has grown from 119 acres of open space lands and 11 miles of managed public trails to more than 4,700 acres and 56 miles of trails.

“The largest and most expensive open space acquisition to date was the B&B Mines purchase, in which the town and county jointly acquired 1,840 acres of property for $9 million,” Mamula continued. “This purchase, closed in 2006, greatly expanded the land preserved by the two open space programs and required lengthy negotiations, which were provided pro bono by Turk.”

A large number of people attended the council meeting in support of Montepare, and when it came time for him to receive the award, they rose to their feet, clapped loudly and couldn’t help but ask for a “speech.”

In his remarks, Montepare produced a long list of thank-yous and said it’s been a privilege.

“Absolutely most importantly is the constituents of the town of Breckenridge and Summit County who have consistently voted to keep the mill levies active so we can fund this,” he said. “So what I’ve done for 20 years is have a role in spending constituents’ money. I’ve been a kid in the mall, but my mall is the backcountry.”

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