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Most of the stories on growth and development in the West focus on subdivisions that add hundreds of homes, sometimes in very controversial places, and today's news has a couple of such stories. Kennecott Mining Company's plans for its holdings near Salt Lake City will add 160,000 homes to the area over the next 50 years. An Associated Press story in the Casper Star-Tribune says the "megasuburb" is being touted as a showcase for walkable communities based around a light-rail system. Kennecott officials say the development will be twice the size of San Francisco when it’s completely built out. And the Farmington Daily Timesreports that work on a huge development next to the Wolf Creek Ski Area in Colorado could begin as early as June. The Village at Wolf Creek, as the 2,100-unit development is named, has created a lot of debate, from the size of the development planned to the methods opponents say were used to gain Forest Service approval for two access roads needed for work on the project to begin. A story in the Denver Post last week said a former Forest Service forester involved in the environmental analsyis done as part of project said USFS officials were under pressure from those higher up in the agency to approve the roads. And then there are the other stories of the day. Where residents and groups and communities work together to save what is important to them. And those stories are in the news today as well. The Denver Post reports today on the efforts of the 120 residents of Ophir, a tiny town in Colorado, just a few miles over the mountain as the crow files from Telluride, to save the space that is important to them.

Western Communities’ Small Efforts Make A Big Difference

Most of the stories on growth and development in the West focus on subdivisions that add hundreds of homes, sometimes in very controversial places, and today’s news has a couple of such stories.

Kennecott Mining Company’s plans for its holdings near Salt Lake City will add 160,000 homes to the area over the next 50 years. An Associated Press story in the Casper Star-Tribune says the “megasuburb” is being touted as a showcase for walkable communities based around a light-rail system. Kennecott officials say the development will be twice the size of San Francisco when it’s completely built out.

And the Farmington Daily Timesreports that work on a huge development next to the Wolf Creek Ski Area in Colorado could begin as early as June. The Village at Wolf Creek, as the 2,100-unit development is named, has created a lot of debate, from the size of the development planned to the methods opponents say were used to gain Forest Service approval for two access roads needed for work on the project to begin.

A story in the Denver Post last week said a former Forest Service forester involved in the environmental analsyis done as part of project said USFS officials were under pressure from those higher up in the agency to approve the roads.

And then there are the other stories of the day. Where residents and groups and communities work together to save what is important to them. And those stories are in the news today as well.

The Denver Post reports today on the efforts of the 120 residents of Ophir, a tiny town in Colorado, just a few miles over the mountain as the crow files from Telluride, to save the space that is important to them.

For 14 years, Ophir’s residents have scrounged up the resources to purchase 200 acres of old mining claims on the hillsides around their hamlet which they then secured with conservation easements. A pretty amazing feat when you consider the town has no sales tax or stores, and most of its residents work elsewhere.

And now with the efforts of Glen Pauls — a generous landowner who has spent the last 20 years quietly buying up 1,200 acres of mining claims — the town’s legacy of open space will get another boost.

Pauls is working with the Trust for Public Lands to transfer the lands into the Uncompahgre National Forest, an effort that will take an estimated five years and $5 million to complete. But Doug Robotham, the trust’s executive director for Colorado, said the Bush administration’s support of an $850,000 allocation for the transfer in next year’s budget, sends a strong message of support.

The Trust for Public Lands is helping conserve a bit of Utah’s past, and open space too. The Deseret News reports today that the Trust is working with a third-generation landowner to preserve a 48-acre farm that is now completely surrounded with new development. Ron Zollinger said he wants to keep his promise to his father that the farm with 1,000 apple trees and is known for its apple cider would remain a farm.

Toward that end, the George and Delores Dore Eccles Foundation, based in Salt Lake City, gave $40,000 to the Zollinger Farm conservation easement for and the Trust for Public Lands is looking for another $50,000 to complete the transaction.

The Cache County farm is located near Logan and River Heights and is in danger of being consumed by development. The Trust for Public Lands estimates that development consumes about 600 acres of farmland every year in the Utah county. Although Zollinger Farm contains prime farmland, a conservation easement will also protect habitat for deer, elk, pheasants, rabbits, porcupines, skunks, raccoons and foxes.

And in Montana, the town of Red Lodge has begun laying the groundwork for what the mountain town’s residents hope will be a trail system for hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders. Although most of the trails exist only as lines on a map at this time, there are four segments within city limits that total 21.4 miles of trail.

The Billings Gazette reports that the plan is to extend the trails to nearby amenities such as Custer National Forest or the Red Lodge Nordic Center. And the developers of three subdivisions planned or in the process of being built around the town are interested in providing land to hook into the trails system, and one developer has already agreed to build a section of one trail.

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