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Local conservation news brought to you by AVLT.  | Est. 1967 | 
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Carter and Louise Jackson at their Lazy H Slash Eleven Ranch
on the Roaring Fork River.
In Memoriam: Carter Jackson, a Friend of AVLT
Cowboy, rancher, veterinarian, veteran, community leader, father – Carter Jackson wore many hats, all with a goodness in his heart and a twinkle in his eye. He had many interests, but land conservation - particularly protecting land for agriculture - was his passion, and he felt strongly about keeping the Western heritage of our valleys alive. Carter served on the Aspen Valley Land Trust board from 2003 to 2008, and on the Western Colorado Agricultural Heritage board for six years before that. He and his wife Louise and their four daughters generously conserved their 300-acre ranch along the Roaring Fork River south of Glenwood Springs. Carter left this earth on January 24 knowing that the land he loved and stewarded for more than 50 years would remain undeveloped and that he had, as he hoped, “saved some of the past for the future.”
 
The community has lost a good friend in Carter. We are honored he requested that memorial donations in his name be made to AVLT at
320 Main Street, Suite 204, Carbondale, CO 81623.
Who's Living on the Land?


Conservation easements are required by federal regulations to protect at least one of four conservation values. One of these is: “Protection of a relatively natural habitat of fish, wildlife, or plants, or similar ecosystem,” which is recognized on over 95% of the conservation easements AVLT holds. The tangible aspects of this conservation value are witnessed each year by AVLT’s lead easement monitor, Dawn Barton-Welles (West Elks Ecological Consulting).  Since 2001, Dawn has made annual visits to properties conserved by AVLT. She records wildlife observations and often talks with landowners who share their personal wildlife observations.
 
Below are some of the observations from Dawn’s 2014 monitoring season. Each of these is a testament to the landowners who have ensured their land will forever provide habitat for a diverse range of wildlife. (See if you can find all of the animals referenced in the examples!)



"Moose, wild turkeys and elk were seen on the property during the site visit."
 
"Deer, elk, bear and mountain lions are often seen on the property."
 
"Landowner saw moose, blue heron, owls and bluebirds throughout the summer."
 
"Numerous deer and a red-tailed hawk where seen during the site visit."
 
"Twelve great blue herons nested in the cottonwoods along the river this year."
 
"The bald eagles had 2 offspring and moved back to their 2010 nest."
 
"Coyotes, fox, bull snakes and owls were seen on the property this year."
 
"Signs of moose, elk, deer, bear and blue grouse were all seen during the site visit."
Conserving a Slice of Redstone History
The history of picturesque Redstone is intertwined with coal mining and nowhere is there a more visible symbol of that history than the Redstone Coke Ovens. Built in 1903 at the entrance to the Redstone Historic District, the coke ovens were the final step in converting coal to coke for shipment to steel plants.  When the Redstone mine was permanently closed in 1991, its assets were sold to settle claims from its bankruptcy. The vast holdings at the Coal Basin mine site were acquired by the U.S. Forest Service through a series of land exchanges, but the coke oven property was placed on the market  for commercial development. The Redstone Historical Society rallied to save the site, and in 2003 obtained a grant from the Colorado Historic Society (CHS) to buy the property. The project soon ran into a snag – the CHS would not release funds for the purchase unless the ovens were declared an historic site, and the bankruptcy judge wouldn’t allow the designation because it would make the property less valuable. AVLT came to the rescue and purchased 14-acre property, obtained a historic designation, and then recouped its money when the CHS grant was released. The coke ovens are now owned by Pitkin County and protected through a historic preservation conservation easement, the only one of its type held by AVLT.
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 along the trail. 

 A New Chapter for Historic Ranch
The Wheatley Homestead – covering 263 acres of meadows and ruddy hillsides at the mouth of Snowmass Canyon – was first ranched in 1899. At the time there was no Highway 82, no Lower River Road, and the beloved Rio Grande Trail, which runs through the heart of property, was still a railroad. Peter and Janneli Dart acquired the ranch in 1960 and, along with their children, Mari, J, Paul and Will, made the monumental decision to protect it forever in 1997 by granting a conservation easement to AVLT and Pitkin County. Despite the protections of the easement, changes continued to unfold – from the four-laning of Highway 82 to the construction of the Rio Grande Trail, which drastically increased visitation to this area. Additionally, public fishing access was provided along the Roaring Fork and Wheatley Gulch was opened to hikers. 
 
On January 7, Pitkin County purchased the west 105 acres of the property to better steward the public fishing access on the Roaring Fork and hiking in Wheatley Gulch, and eliminate the potential for a massive house in the meadow. Meanwhile, AVLT continues to hold conservation easements over the entire property, and the Dart family still owns 158 acres including the historic Wheatley Schoolhouse and Arbaney farmhouse. They have listed the parcel for sale with the knowledge that the easement will continue to protect its important habitat, ranching history, and scenic views that dominate the Snowmass Canyon stretch of the Rio Grande Trail.

THE FACTS:
Length of Rio Grande Trail through the property: 
1.1 miles


Length of river & streams protected: 0.8 mile

Riparian forest and wetlands protected:  21 acres

Number of Historic Structures on property: 
3
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Images: Carter and Louise Jackson, Lois Abel Harlamert; Redstone Coke Ovens, Ed Kosmicki; Dart Ranch, West Elks Ecological Consultants