Breckenridge, Summit County buy 100 acres of open space around Bald Mountain |

Breckenridge, Summit County buy 100 acres of open space around Bald Mountain

The town of Breckenridge and Summit County announced on Tuesday that they jointly acquired a 104-acre parcel on the western flank of Bald Mountain for $850,000.

The land, known as the Laurium Mine property, will be managed as public open space, providing winter and summer non-motorized access to the recreational routes on Baldy.

“The Laurium Mine is valuable to our community because it embodies much of what we seek in open space acquisitions: trail access, streams and wetlands, valuable wildlife habitat, historical structures and scenic backdrops,” Scott Reid, open space and trails planner for the town of Breckenridge, said in a news release. “We are very pleased to partner with Summit County Government on this important acquisition.”

Brian Lorch, director of the Summit County Open Space and Trails program added, “This acquisition furthers our programs’ history of jointly protecting open space qualities that benefit residents and visitors in Summit County. This is an important addition to our community’s open space portfolio.”

The land comprises multiple mining claims and includes the historic Laurium Mine, one of the oldest mines in the Breckenridge mining district. It began in the 1870s and produced gold and silver intermittently into the 1930s. Remains of mining structures, including a stamp mill and cabins, testify to the property’s industrious past.

In the 1980s, the property also served as a Nordic ski center. Breckenridge Councilman Ben Brewer recalled, “My dad founded a Nordic ski school on the property called the Breckenridge Ski Touring Experience, where our family taught backcountry skiing skills to guests and locals.”

Now public open space surrounded largely by national forest, the property will be managed to accommodate non-motorized access as outlined in the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan. Several system trails — including a portion of Pinball Alley — cross the property.

“This acquisition is a long-term investment in our community’s trails and open space,” said Brewer. “We’re protecting a piece of history and preserving it for future generations.”

Funding for the purchase came from the Summit County Open Space and Trails program (funded by a property tax mil levy) and the town of Breckenridge Open Space and Trails program (funded by a voter-initiated .5 percent sales tax within town). Together, the two programs have jointly acquired more than 4,500 acres in the Upper Blue River basin.

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