Local conservation news brought to you by AVLT.  | Est. 1967 | 
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Neotropical Birds:
Linking AVLT to the International Conservation Community

Every spring brings exciting seasonal changes to our area, including the arrival of dozens of species of birds that fill our eyes and ears with nature’s beauty. Many of these birds are neotropical migrants that breed in Canada and the U.S. during the summer and spend Colorado winters in Mexico, Central America, and South America. These seasonal movements are truly one of the wonders of the animal world that give a larger perspective to our work, as many of the properties conserved through AVLT provide vital nesting and stopover habitat for neotropical migrants. These same birds also benefit from the conservation work of other groups and individuals from Alaska through South America. As a link in that chain of conserving migratory bird habitat, we (= all of AVLT's partners) are participating in an international effort to ensure these species persist alongside our growing population – over time, distance, and geography. After all, it takes a world to raise bird! 
Ashcroft Protected in Land Exchange
The Ryan parcel, a beautiful 40-acre parcel that was once home to the U.S. Army’s elite Tenth Mountain Division, is the scenic backdrop to the historic town of Ashcroft and adjacent to the popular Cathedral Lake Trailhead. When it came up for sale in 1999 with a price tag of $2.75 million, Aspen Valley Land Trust teamed up with Pitkin County Open Space and Trails to purchase the property and came up with a plan to transfer ownership to the U.S. Forest service through a Congressional land exchange. While the plan originally seemed simple, it took several complicated land transactions, a Pitkin County ballot measure, and trips to Washington, D.C. to promote the bill in Congress before the exchange was completed in 2009. The result was worth the effort. In the final exchange, the U.S. Forest Service took title to the Ryan parcel as well as two Smuggler Mountain mining claims owned by AVLT. Pitkin County received a 40-acre parcel in the Crystal River Valley and 12 mining claims on Smuggler, as well as the “Means cabin” parcel on Independence Pass. To pay for “Saving Ryan,” generous private citizens donated $165,000 and Pitkin County sold the 8.4-acre Means cabin parcel to a private developer for slightly more than $2 million, while retaining a trail easement along the road.

Today the Ryan parcel is a seamless part of the White River National Forest and the gateway to the increasingly popular hiking and nordic trails in the upper Castle Creek Valley. 

AVLT is teaming up with the 5Point Film Festival crew for this year’s event April 23-26. These four days will be packed with inspiring short adventure films, panel discussions, live art demonstrations, an ice cream social and more! The 5Point Film Festival aims to inspire adventure of all kinds, to connect generations thorough shared experience and respect, and to engage passion with a conscience through film.

A highlight for AVLT will be hosting a community brunch Sunday, April 26 from 12-2 p.m. at the Carbondale Rec Center. A $10 donation to the 5Point Film Fund will get you brunch sourced from local ranches and vendors and freshly brewed java from Bonfire Coffee. We hope to see you there!

To purchase tickets, view the inspirational trailer and see the schedule of events, go to
Some 90,000 people annually use parts of the Rio Grande Trail, and most of them pass by land conserved through Aspen Valley Land Trust.  From busy Henry Stein Park, owned by AVLT since 1972, to the Jackson Ranch on the edge of Glenwood Springs, over 17 percent of the popular trail passes through or by more than 1,200 acres of AVLT-conserved land. Another 3,400 acres of conserved land is easily visible to hikers and bikers on the trail. 

Red Butte Ranch & the Stein Legacy
Red Butte Ranch, seated at the base of Red Butte between the Roaring Fork River and McClain Flats Road, was once owned by 1989 Aspen Hall of Fame inductees Henry and Marjory Stein. In the 1940s, Henry bought 500 acres of what was to become the Stein Ranch for $10,000 – which he only told his wife about later – and which became a remarkable legacy of conservation at the entrance to Aspen.  After Henry’s death the ranch was platted as a PUD, and in 2000 the Stein family dedicated two conservation easements to AVLT and open space to Pitkin County – including part of the Sunnyside Trail and a corridor along the Rio Grande Trail through what is known as the “Roaring Fork Gorge.” 
In 2004, the remainder of  the ranch was sold to Robert and Soledad Hurst, who proceeded to amend the plat to shrink lot sizes, give up a road expansion right of way, move the approved lots out of the main view plane, create two recreational climbing areas to be owned by the County, restore 17 acres of degraded sagebrush habitat, and dedicate a 59-acre conservation easement to AVLT and Pitkin County in 2012.  Today this easement, combined with the neighboring Stein Ranch easements, helps establish a notable 1.9-mile corridor of scenic open space and critical habitat along the Rio Grande Trail through the heart of the Roaring Fork Gorge. 

Length of Rio Grande Trail along conserved land: 1.9 miles

Length of Roaring Fork River frontage along conserved land: 
1.9 miles

 Length of Sunnyside Trail corridor along conserved land: 0.65 miles

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Images: Hawk image and map by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Red Butte Ranch header picture by Colorado Wildlife Science