I was tickled to read in The Crested Butte News of yet another successful conservation effort to protect the lovely meadows surrounding that Colorado town. In 1996, I drove to Crested Butte to write a story on the town’s conservation efforts for Land&People magazine. The obviously aging photo above was taken on the trip–showing land protected by the Crested Butte Land Trust along the Slate River south of town. Here is a snippet from that story:
From the picturesque ski village of Crested Butte, down the East and Gunnison River valleys toward the county seat of Gunnison, fields that once grew hay and cows now grow houses and condos, and “For Sale” signs sprout like spring iris in the verdant meadows.
Fourteen years later, the effort continues to protect one of the prettiest moutain valleys it has been my pleasure to visit–and many of the same players are involved. These include TPL, which negotated the latest transaction and helped to assemble the funding; the Crested Butte Land Trust, which will hold an easement on the land; the Town of Crested Butte, which raises conservation funds through a real estate transfer tax; and Great Outdoors Colorado, a state conservation funding program that also contributed to the project.
And I was pleased to note that town planner John Hess, whom I interviewed in 1996, is still in his office in city hall. From The Crested Butte News:
“This is an absolutely great piece of property,” said Hess. “It connects to a lot of other open space up Slate River. The visibility from town looking north is fantastic. I’ve been up in those aspens and seen elk migrating through there. It is a great piece of property.”
Its hard to imagine a more active conservation program for a town of its size. The effort got started in 1991, when the town passed its conservation funding measure and the land trust was founded with TPL’s help. By the time I visited in 1996, the town and the land trust together had protected 642 acres. Today, the Crested Butte Land Trust boasts of more than 5,000 acres protected.
Congratualtions to Crested Butte on this latest conservation victory. I hope to get back to town soon to see the results of their labor.