How to manage newly acquired open space in the midvalley that will connect the Rio Grande Trail to federal land on the Crown is the topic of a public open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 20 at Basalt Town Hall. Trail access to the Crown, agriculture and wildlife habitat protection will all be up for discussion.
The 145-acre Red Ridge Ranch — formerly known as the Saltonstall property — located between Hooks Lane and Rock Bottom Ranch in Emma, was purchased in January by a partnership including Eagle and Pitkin counties, Great Outdoors Colorado, the town of Basalt, and Mid Valley Trails Committee. It is located in Eagle County but would be managed by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails because of its close proximity to the Pitkin County line.
“This property includes 50 acres of historically irrigated farmland and water rights with the potential for continued agricultural use in addition to having potential as a mountain bike and hiking trail connection to the Crown from the Basalt side,” said Gary Tennenbaum, stewardship and trails manager for Pitkin County open space and trails.
After gathering public input, an interim plan will be drafted that will guide management of the property for the next two years. A more comprehensive plan including the Bureau of Land Management’s Crown property will be created in the future.
A crew of inmates from the Colorado Department of Corrections recently completed a project clearing brush and trees from Difficult Campground outside of Aspen in hopes of reducing human-bear conflicts.
The objective was to reduce bear presence in the campground by removing berry-producing shrubs and shrub cover around campsites, while maintaining some privacy screening between sites. In the past three years, there have been a number of incidents where campers have had close encounters with bears at Difficult Campground. One example was when a bear sat on a tent with people inside while it was eating serviceberries from a bush overhanging the tent.
The work was conducted with oversight from the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the campground, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Inmates used chainsaws and a wood chipper to cut and mulch areas of oak, serviceberry, dogwood, elderberry and aspen trees that dominate the campground.
The campground will open for the season on Friday.
The city of Aspen is asking residents to weigh in on what environmental sustainability means to them, via the online Open City Hall forum.
Respondents will be asked to fill out a questionnaire, which will give the city input on addressing one of its top-10 goals of defining sustainable Aspen.
The city completed two days of focus groups in early May with staff and outside subject experts to articulate what Aspen would look like if it reached sustainability in five areas: energy, water, air, waste and parks, and trails and open space. The focus groups brainstormed potential measures and identified top priorities using criteria that included importance to the Aspen community, quality and availability of data, relevance to outcome described, and ability to influence the measure in a positive direction.
The public questionnaire and Open City Hall topic aim to be a check-in to verify how aligned the experts’ initial ideas about environmental sustainability are with the interests of the broader community. City staff will use the focus group results and the resident feedback to draft recommendations to City Council.
A link to the feedback form will be on the homepage of www.aspenpitkin.com  and a question about sustainability will be on Open City Hall, which also has a link on the city’s homepage. The survey will be available May 13-20.