The Trust for Public Land Secures Opportunity to Protect 3,200 Acres in Red Mountain Area (CO)
OURAY, Colo.- The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit land conservation organization, has signed an agreement with Idarado Mining Company, a subsidiary of Denver-based Newmont Mining Corporation., that gives TPL an option to purchase approximately 3,200 acres in Ouray and San Juan counties, near Red Mountain, Colorado. TPL is facilitating acquisition of the property by the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest, to ensure its permanent protection from potential subdivision and commercial development. The transaction is the first of several phased purchases which, if successfully completed, will protect 6,000 to 10,000 acres in the heart of the San Juan Mountains. The Red Mountain Task Force, a coalition of San Juan, 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 one hundred 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 return the property 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 Rick River, vice president and general manager of Idarado Mining Company.
“TPL applauds Idarado’s willingness to take this first step toward creating a land legacy here for the citizens of Colorado and the West,” said TPL Colorado State Director Doug Robotham.
The 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 to secure federal funding for the public purchase. The purchase price will be determined by an independent appraisal, subject to review by the U. S. Forest Service. The Task Force is seeking a Congressional appropriation of $7.5 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in Fiscal Year 2001 for this first Red Mountain Project purchase.
“The U. S. Forest Service greatly appreciates the opportunity to work with Idarado Mining Company and the Trust for Public Land to acquire this nationally renowned scenic and historic resource for the benefit of the public,” said Forest Supervisor Bob Storch. “We are very pleased to be to a partner in an initiative like this that has such tremendous community support.”
“The completion of the Red Mountain Project will likely be a long and complex process but, with widespread community backing, we hope to get the encouragement and support of our Congressional delegation and realize this marvelous opportunity to preserve a unique heritage for future generations,” 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 remnants of Red Mountain, a once-vibrant silver mining town, which has been designated by Ouray and San Juan counties as a historical landmark and named by Colorado Preservation, Inc. as one of the state’s most endangered sites. The area contains extensive habitat for the Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly, a 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.
At the successful conclusion of the Idarado project, TPL will purchase and convey the property to the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest early in 2001—should a Land and Water Conservation Fund appropriation become available to the Forest Service this year.
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 60,000 acres of land. For further information on the Red Mountain Project, visit www.redmountainproject.com.