The Sopris Sun

AVLT Red Hill Project meets funding commitment goals

The “Save Red Hill” project, a collaborative effort between the Aspen Valley Land Trust and the Town of Carbondale, has been funded at $1.35 million. But now that funding is secured, the work is just beginning.

The project, launched in November 2017, conserves a 25-acre area at the base of Red Hill. The property will officially be turned over to the town in April, and AVLT will retain a permanent conservation easement on it.

“This has been a wonderful partnership between AVLT and the Town of Carbondale, and the Town looks forward to being the long-term steward of this property,” Town Manager Jay Harrington said in a statement. “We are excited about engaging the community in the planning for trail and trailhead improvements.”

Springtime trail planning and subsequent summer trail building will rely on continued community involvement, and AVLT plans to announce dates for both phases shortly. The trail connection will divert recreationist traffic from Garfield County Road 107.

“It really takes a village, as they say,” AVLT Executive Director Suzanne Stephens said in a statement. “In this case, a valley.”

That was certainly true of the funding campaign. All told, about 300 individuals contributed more than $200,000 to the project. An additional $200,000 contribution from the Ruth H. Brown Foundation and $100,000 donation from Abigail Wexner added to the Town’s $50,000 commitment and AVLT’s $350,000 in seed funding, which came from a River Valley Ranch transfer tax. All together, those monies allowed AVLT to purchase the land in December of last year for $825,000 — down from the initial $1.1m asking price — but still left the campaign short of its $1.35m goal.

Earlier this year, a soft commitment from the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners for $200,000 (pending an official vote in 2019), a donation from the Alpenglow Foundation for $100,000 and an approval from the Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners for $150,000 filled the funding gap.

“Red Hill is a unique resource in our valley. It’s accessible when many upvalley trails are not,” said Dale Will, Open Space and Trails Acquisition and Special Projects director, in a statement.

AVLT is continuing accepting donations for the project’s future, ongoing maintenance at avlt.org. “We thank the entire community for your amazing support,” Stephens said.