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.
A Great Partnership
In 1999, AVLT helped secure a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to enable the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) to purchase Rock Bottom Ranch from the Cole Family, which resulted in the ranch being placed under conservation easement in two parts, ensuring that the land would forever remain in its agricultural and open space condition. At the time no one knew just how fruitful this 113-acre educational center and demonstration farm between Basalt and Carbondale would become.
Situated between the Roaring Fork River and the Rio Grande Trail at the base of “The Crown,” the exposure of this mid-valley hub for environmental education has soared in recent years as ACES’ education program has grown and use of the Rio Grande Trail has increased. Just this past month AVLT, ACES, and GOCO completed an update to the conservation easement that, along with a new influx of grant funding, will enhance visitors’ experience by the addition of an eco-education trail and other features, while ensuring that the conservation values of the ranch will forever be protected.