Prime Crested Butte Open Space Protected

In one of the largest conservation transactions in Crested Butte history, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) closed a deal on June 30, acquiring 313 acres of high-profile real estate near Crested Butte for open space preservation, and set the stage for preservation of 70 additional acres as part of the transaction. Protection of the property, previously owned by the local Kochevar family since 1905, will preserve important views from the town, provide hiking, biking and Nordic skiing trail connections on existing open space parcels, protect an elk migration corridor, and maintain some existing grazing uses.

TPL immediately conveyed 166 acres to the Town of Crested Butte for protection as open space. The Crested Butte Land Trust (CBLT) will hold a conservation easement over the same property. The acquisition was funded by a $2 million Lottery grant from GOCO and $1 million from the Town of Crested Butte.

In recent years Crested Butte, with its magnificent mountain scenery, has grown 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 property into high-end resort homes because of its proximity to the town.

“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.”

Eve Kochevar will retain ownership of 70 of the family’s original 383 acres and protect the property through a conservation easement allowing a trail across the property. TPL will retain ownership of the remaining 147 acres until the Town and CBLT raise sufficient funds to purchase it. In the interim, TPL and the Town have partnered on a financing arrangement. TPL, the Town, and CBLT are working toward completing the project and anticipate conveyance of a second portion of the property remaining next winter (2011) with the third and final phase closing in the fall of 2012.

“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, and strong partnership with the Town and CBLT.”

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 partners will make a second application to GOCO for an additional $1 million, while CBLT looks to raise $100,000 toward completing the third and final phase of the acquisition. The Town and CBLT have also received a commitment of $100,000 from the Gunnison Land Preservation Board and has requested $100,000 from the 1% for Open Space program in Crested Butte.

“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 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’s share of Lottery 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.

The Crested Butte Land Trust (CBLT) is a community nonprofit land conservation organization that perpetually protects and stewards natural lands for vistas, recreation, wildlife and ranching, thus contributing to the preservation of Gunnison County’s unique heritage and quality of life.