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Citizens Rally to Support Open Space Purchase

by Bergen Tjossem

Funds raised trigger another gift that will match all donations pledged now through July 31

Last Friday, about 100 people donned boots and cowboy hats for a picnic along Brush Creek near Eagle to raise funds and help save a rare piece of our valley’s heritage while leaving their legacy for future generations.

“Friends of Hardscrabble Ranch” announced a lead gift of $100,000 at the picnic to help preserve the 1540-acre Hardscrabble Ranch, once the centerpiece of a mega-development ambition known as Adam’s Rib. This lead gift triggered another $100,000 gift that will match dollar-for-dollar every donation pledged between now and July 31. Another nearly $50,000 was raised that evening through donations from attendees.

“This shows how important Open Space preservation is to the people of this valley,” said Rosie Shearwood, Co-chair of the Our Valley campaign run by Eagle Valley Land Trust (EVLT), as she stood on the banks of Brush Creek during the celebration. “We are working to preserve our heritage so that future generations can experience the expansive beauty that we all have enjoyed during our time here. Now is the time for everyone to get on board with this campaign.”

EVLT is leading the citizens’ effort to forever preserve the ranch, which is currently in the hands of Denver developers. Hardscrabble Ranch sits in the heart of Brush Creek Valley, one of the last pristine ranching valleys in this community. It was once destined to be the headquarters of the Adam’s Rib ski area, a resort development that would have consumed the Brush Creek Valley. EVLT hopes its citizens’ fundraising effort will generate $500,000 by the end of July 2017.

Eagle Valley Land Trust is partnering with Eagle County Open Space, The Conservation Fund, and others including funding partners Great Outdoors Colorado, the Town of Eagle and the Eagle Ranch Wildlife Commission to acquire and preserve the ranch as open space while the opportunity to do so exists. To achieve this, the County has approved using Open Space funds allocated through 2018. EVLT’s goal is to reduce that loan from future funds so that there will continue to be funding for Open Space projects.

Once Hardscrabble Ranch is acquired by the County, EVLT will oversee protection of the land via a conservation easement and an important piece of the Brush Creek Valley’s agricultural heritage and character will be preserved forever. Conservationists, wildlife, outdoor recreationists, local ranchers, Eagle County citizens, and historians will all benefit tremendously and will have access to the land.

“Hardscrabble Ranch is one of the last remaining unbroken ranches in the Vail Valley,” said Daus. “It’s been a ranching property since the 1800s and represents an important part of our heritage that we cannot lose. The county is on track to nearly double its population during the next 40 years, and with the increasing threat of development, it is important now more than ever that we protect our precious open spaces such as this one.”

The “Our Valley Campaign” in support of preserving Hardscrabble Ranch runs through July 31. Donors will receive a Deed of Acknowledgement for preserving the Brush Creek Valley. Donations start at $25, for a 100 square-foot parcel of land preserved, and increase from there, with naming opportunities for donors who contribute $25,000 or more. For more information and to contribute, visit https://evlt.org/ourvalley/.

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