GOCO’s help urgently needed for open space purchases
In December, Summit County’s Open Space and Trails Program and the county commissioners went out on a limb to preserve open space in the beautiful Lower Blue Valley, borrowing money set aside for the pending B&B open space purchase because opportunity was knocking.The Sudan Trust parcels just north and east of Green Mountain Reservoir came into public ownership – a total of 831 acres for $2.66 million. The biggest chunk of the purchase is the Cow Camp parcel, 573 acres that cost $1.83 million.This land was already subdivided into 14 lots of 40-plus acres each for development. The original listing price was $5 million. The county negotiated a deal that reduced the price to $1.83 million, if it could close by the end of 2002.That was the opportunity. The risk was borrowing money earmarked for B&B.The state’s Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) program, funded by our lottery ticket purchases, is being asked to help reduce the risk. The county is asking GOCO for a $463,431 open space grant. GOCO was asked to help at the time of purchase through another funding avenue, but the county was directed to the regular grant cycle.It behooves GOCO to respond with the full amount. The Cow Camp parcel is a significant open space parcel, touching Green Mountain Reservoir and running up toward the Williams Fork Range. It borders important U.S. Forest Service conservation lands and Bureau of Land Management parcels.Development on the open terrain would have marred scenic vistas and taken away important habitat for mule deer and the threatened sage grouse.This is not a parochial Summit County issue. As Open Space Council member Turk Montepare and county commissioner Gary Lindstrom have said in the past, Summit County is where people from the Front Range come to enjoy the High Country, whether they want beautiful views or recreational opportunities.Saving Cow Camp, which is bisected by Highway 9, benefits all those who travel this major corridor and those who recreate on the reservoir. A full GOCO contribution to Cow Camp works for all of the state. It also frees up borrowed local dollars to help secure the 1,800-acre B&B purchase in the Golden Horseshoe, a prime recreational area for locals and visitors. That purchase, slated to cost $9 million, is due to close next year.
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