$2 Million Grant Awarded to Crested Butte Project

Governor Bill Ritter today announced the award of $24 million in Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grants that will result in new trails and local outdoor recreation areas, protect more than 73,000 acres of land, and launch construction of a new state park just 50 miles from Denver. Twenty-three projects in 16 counties received grants including The Trust for Public Land (TPL), which was awarded $2,007,500 to preserve the first phase of the Kochevar property. TPL joined with the Town of Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust (CBLT) in pursuing conservation of this outstanding property located just north of Crested Butte.

“Investing in Colorado’s outdoors contributes to the vitality of our state,” said Governor Ritter. “These projects will improve the quality of life of communities and families. They will protect open lands and provide new outdoor recreation opportunities that boost tourism and economic development efforts.”

Preservation of the Kochevar property will protect a large portion that is highly visible from the town, protect an elk migration corridor, maintain much of the property in agricultural use, and provide land for non-motorized trails connecting different parts of the valley. The 176-acre parcel is part of the larger 383-acre Kochevar property that the Kochevar family has owned since the late 1800s. In recent years, the family has watched Crested Butte, with its magnificent mountain scenery, grow in popularity as a tourist destination and location for second homes. Although the real estate market has declined, there is significant potential to develop the Kochevar property into high-end resort homes.

“We believe we have a unique opportunity to preserve this land now,” said Crested Butte Mayor Leah Williams. “Preservation of this spectacular parcel will be recognized as a prudent decision for generations.”

The GOCO Board offered an additional grant opportunity this year after learning from local governments that they could use more GOCO funds to take advantage of lower construction and material costs for trails and outdoor recreation projects. Similarly, the land trust community indicated that changes in the real estate market had led to increased interest among landowners in conserving properties. State Parks had also completed an extensive planning process for its newest park-Staunton State Park in Jefferson and Park counties near Pine?and was ready to proceed with development.

“This property serves as the ultimate conservation puzzle piece–connecting four existing open space parcels, buffering National Forest, and providing recreational access to the backcountry,” said Justin Spring, TPL project manager. “We’re thankful for GOCO’s support?this project simply would not happen without this grant.”

“The Kochevar property adds to the more than 1,000 acres CBLT has protected in the Slate River Valley, and will provide important amenities to our community including hiking, skiing and biking trails,” said Ann Johnston, executive director of the Crested Butte Land Trust. “We sincerely appreciate the enthusiasm of the Kochevar family to preserve their family’s legacy.”

TPL, the Town and CBLT are busy working to raise funds to protect the remaining portion of the Kochevar property. This will include additional elk habitat, trail connections and high quality wetlands near the Slate River.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.

Great Outdoors Colorado is the result of a citizens’ initiative passed by voters in 1992. Entities eligible to receive GOCO funds are local governments, land trusts, Colorado State parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. To date, GOCO has provided funding for projects in all of Colorado’s 64 counties, and has awarded $24.9 million for projects in Gunnison County.