Red Mountain (CO) Preservation Effort Continues
OURAY, Colo. – The Trust For Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit land conservation organization, and Idarado Mining Company, a subsidiary of Denver-based Newmont Mining Corporation, today announced the two organizations have entered into an agreement to conserve Idarado’s extensive land holdings in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. The agreement gives TPL an exclusive option to purchase approximately 2,200 acres of Colorado’s most spectacular high country between the towns of Telluride and Ouray.
A year ago, TPL and Idarado entered into a similar agreement granting TPL an option to purchase approximately 2,800 acres of high country property along U.S. 550 above Ouray.
Upon completion of both purchases, which could occur as early as the end of 2001, TPL will convey the properties to the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest to ensure their permanent protection.
The transaction announced today is the second of several phased purchases that, if successfully completed, will protect over 10,000 acres in the heart of the San Juan Mountains. The Red Mountain Task Force, a coalition of San Juan, San Miguel, Ouray, and La Plata County residents and officials, is spearheading the multi-year protection effort, which is known as the Red Mountain Project.
“For the past 100 years, mining was a part of the economic engine that built this part of Colorado, and Idarado played a major role in that activity. Now, the mining at Idarado is complete and Idarado appreciates the opportunity, provided through TPL, to conserve this property forever and to return it to other, public uses. This really begins the final chapter in Idarado’s history and it is this which will be Idarado’s legacy,” said Dave Baker, president of Idarado Mining Company.
“The Trust For Public Land long has been interested in conserving this incomparable part of Colorado,” said TPL’s Colorado State Director Doug Robotham. “With this second option agreement, we feel we are making significant progress towards realizing the land conservation vision of the Red Mountain Project. We know there’s more work to be done, but none of what we have accomplished could have happened without the vision and creativity of the people at Idarado, the persistence and hard work of the Red Mountain Task Force, and the effective leadership of Colorado’s congressional delegation, including Senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Wayne Allard, and Representative Scott McInnis. Together, we truly are creating a land legacy here for the citizens of Colorado and the West.”
Like the agreement announced a year ago, today’s agreement between TPL and Idarado gives TPL the right to purchase the property at appraised fair market value during the agreement’s term. During that time the Red Mountain Task Force will work with Colorado’s congressional delegation to secure federal funding for the public purchase. The Task Force is seeking a congressional appropriation of $5 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in fiscal year 2002 for this second phase of the Red Mountain Project purchase. Last year, the hard work and leadership of Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, in his role as a member of the Interior Appropriations Committee, Senator Wayne Allard, Congressman Scott McInnis and Governor Bill Owens resulted in a $5 million appropriation by Congress to the Forest Service for the project in fiscal year 2001.
“The U.S. Forest Service greatly appreciates the opportunity to work with Idarado Mining Company, the Trust for Public Land, and the Red Mountain Task Force to acquire this nationally renowned scenic and historic resource for the benefit of the public,” said Steve Rinella, the lands group leader for the U.S. Forest Service’s Region 2 office in Denver. “We are very pleased to be a partner in an initiative like this that has such tremendous community support.”
“Today’s agreement is another indication of the remarkable progress we are making towards completing the Red Mountain Project. TPL and Idarado have taken another giant step forward by signing this second option agreement, and last year’s hard work by Colorado’s congressional leaders to secure the $5 million FY 2001 appropriation really positions the project well for success. We look forward to working closely this year again with Senator Campbell, Senator Allard, and Congressman McInnis to secure $5 million in FY 2002,” said Bob Risch, chairman of the Red Mountain Task Force.
The Red Mountain Project land is surrounded by the Uncompahgre and San Juan national forests and is located within the triangle formed by Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride, in southwestern Colorado. It includes the many historic mining sites such as Tomboy townsite above Telluride and the Camp Bird Mine in Yankee Boy Basin, as well as outstanding hiking and four-wheel drive trails. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has designated the area as one of the country’s 11 most endangered historic sites, and Ouray and San Juan counties recognize the region as a historical landmark. Colorado Preservation, Inc. has designated the area as one of the state’s most endangered sites. The area contains extensive habitat for the Canadian lynx and the Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly, two federally listed endangered species, as well as several other sensitive species. With its spectacular scenic vistas, the area offers an abundance of recreation opportunities to one million visitors annually – from hiking, biking, and four-wheel driving to cross-country skiing, mountaineering, and snowmobiling.
Founded in 1972, TPL specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. TPL recently launched its Greenprint for Growth campaign to guide growth, protect air and water, and ensure a high quality of life in communities nationwide. In Colorado, TPL has worked with private landowners, community groups and public agencies to protect over 60,000 acres of land. For more information, please visit our website at www.tpl.org. For further information on the Red Mountain Project, visit www.redmountainproject.com.