Part of B&B Mines in public hands
SUMMIT COUNTY – The first two pieces of the historic B&B Mines open space purchase fell into local hands Wednesday.The Breckenridge and Summit County open space programs closed on the Star and Presidents mining claims, paying $700,000 for about 120 acres in the Golden Horseshoe area north of Breckenridge. Thus begins the drum roll leading up to a final deal that will put 1,842 total acres of close-in backcountry land into the public domain.The Golden Horseshoe is flanked by the Swan and French Creek drainages. B&B lands hook up with National Forest Service property and well-used trails crisscross the boundaries.The final price tag will total $9 million for the land and up to $2 million for environmental work. The town and the county are splitting the costs 50-50.A final closing on all of the land comes when local, state and federal authorities win judicial approval of a decree that spells out future environmental liabilities at three old mining and mill sites.Open space officials announced the B&B Mines deal had been struck with the landowners in December 2001.Since then, local officials have been negotiating a complicated plan on how to clean up mining wastes left from the county’s gold mining days.The first 120 acres of the deal are clean of environmental issues. The Presidents claims are in the heart of the Golden Horseshoe, above Dry Gulch.”The Presidents are really a beautiful, beautiful set of claims,” said Turk Montepare of Breckenridge, a key figure in the deal and a member of the county’s Open Space Advisory Council.The Star claims are located in French Gulch between the Country Boy and Sally Barber mines.”It’s an area where few people go,” Montepare said.He said the $700,000 was the earnest money put down on the overall deal and the two sets of claims stand alone as qualified open space purchases.Earlier this week, the Board of County Commissioners and the Breckenridge Town Council approved the consent decree that will lead to the final purchase.The decree details clean-up work that includes construction of a water treatment plant at the old Wellington Oro Mine in French Gulch to help stop the flowing of heavy metals in French Creek and the Blue River.Breckenridge town manager Tim Gagen said once state and federal authorities sign the decree, the rest of B&B will close in escrow. Funds and deeds will be released once a judge signs it.Gagen said the legal steps are necessary to make certain the town and county are not held liable for historic environmental issues beyond what they have agreed to address.Jim Pokrandt can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 227, or email@example.com.
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