Key Property in Telluride Backcountry Protected (CO)

DENVER, 10/2/2008: The Colorado office of The Trust for Public Land (TPL) on Tuesday, September 30, completed a transaction to pass ownership of the Kentucky Placer to the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County. Kentucky Placer is a narrow but critical piece of previously unprotected property between the town of Telluride and its glorious back country, running from Bear Creek Preserve to the famed Bridal Veil Falls along the south side of the valley. The land is best known to thousands as the site of the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

This transaction will prevent inappropriate development between Telluride Town Park and its famed mountain backdrop, add to the Bear Creek Preserve and the Town Park, and protect other important natural lands.

It also paves the way to re-open legal public access to Bridal Veil Falls, one of Colorado’s top scenic views and one of the premier ice-climbing sites in the world, closed to the public for many years. Once described as “the most difficult waterfall ice-climb in North America”, its opening will likely attract hundreds of top-level ice climbers, and San Miguel County is currently working to secure the insurance agreements that will allow this.

“The Trust for Public Land is proud to have been a part of this conservation success,” said Tim Wohlgenant, Colorado State Director. “After more than four years of holding this property to ensure its permanent protection, we’re extremely pleased with the host of public benefits this transaction will deliver.”

Saving Kentucky Placer is the capstone to a long and complicated series of transactions that has protected a significant amount of the countryside around Telluride. The 117 acre parcel has been held by TPL since the Trust purchased 2,400 acres of mining claims overlooking the town from the Idarado Mining Company in 2004 as part of their Red Mountain Project (which has protected over 9,000 acres of high country between the towns of Telluride, Ouray and Silverton). The majority of those claims were immediately conveyed to the United States Forest Service for permanent protection, but the unique characteristics of the Kentucky Placer required TPL to hold the property until numerous environmental, planning and zoning issues could be worked out.

With these resolved, 114 acres of Kentucky Placer was purchased in partnership by the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County for $1.4 million including a $500,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado. Conservation easements on the properties were conveyed to the San Miguel Conservation Foundation for their perpetual stewardship. TPL has retained a small piece of the placer – 1.7 acres located just west of the Bear Creek trailhead – and has annexed the property into the town. TPL plans to sell the retained parcel to offset some of the project’s costs and fund future conservation efforts.

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. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 45 states.