Summit County acquires 60-acre property near Keystone Resort to preserve as open space
Summit County has acquired the 60-acre Ida Belle Mine property to be preserved as open space. The property is located alongside Keystone Resort between Jones Gulch and Independence Mountain.
Because the property sits on the edge of the ski resort, it could have been developed and was zoned for three residential units, Summit County Open Space & Trails Director Brian Lorch explained. By acquiring the property, the county will preserve it as open space.
“It’s a property that’s been on our radar screen and the Forest Service’s radar screen for pretty close to 20 years because it sits right in the Jones Gulch wildlife movement corridor that both the Forest Service and the county have identified as a critical wildlife movement corridor,” Lorch said.
According to a news release from the county, the property features several mining claims including its namesake, the Ida Belle Mine, which was used to mine gold and silver from 1880 until about 1928. The area is designated by the U.S. Forest Service as a “forested landscape linkage” for lynx and other forest carnivores. While there are historic mines in the area, Lorch said there haven’t been any water quality or pollutant issues that the county has identified.
The area has been used for recreational activities like mountain biking, backcountry skiing and hiking. As public open space, these activities will continue. During the summer, Lorch said the road to the Ida Belle Mine property is part of the Keystone Resort mountain bike trail system and that hikers and bikers make their way up through the property. In winter, skiing or snowshoeing on the property is permitted, but it is harder to access as recreationists would have to go through Keystone Resort.
Keeping the property as open space preserves “iconic mountain views” as the property is visible from Keystone Resort, Jones Gulch and U.S. Highway 6, according to the release. The property was purchased for $600,000, which came from the property tax-funded Summit County Open Space & Trails program.
Lorch said there isn’t much maintenance work needed on the property when it comes to historic preservation.
“There are a couple of old cabins out there that we’ll take a look at and see if they deserve any sort of historic interpretation as well as the mine at some point,” Lorch said. “We’ve been up there taking a look. Most of the major artifacts have been removed, so there’s not a lot up there but it is an interesting piece of history.”
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